Sunday, October 15, 2017

The silence of the Republican lambs

Here is the existential question for Republicans, especially those now in Congress. Given the laundry list of Trump’s transgressions, including waging war against Republican senators, why are so many of the GOP remaining silent? As the costs to the country pile up, why are so many sitting it out? They can reclaim power from the reckless, unreliable, and ultimately dangerous chief executive, so why don’t they speak - and act?

Aaron Blake (Washington Post’s The Fix) lists 5 reasons the GOP won’t dump Trump.

Last Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) declared President Trump to be childish and dangerous. And not only that: He said almost all of his colleagues agreed. “Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker told the New York Times after he labeled the White House an “adult day-care center” and said that Trump could set off World War III.

Six days later, precisely zero Republican senators have added their names to Corker’s criticisms. Why?

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson has a theory: Cowardice. “More than anything else at this moment,” he writes, “the nation has need of Republican vertebrates.”

But politicians aren’t just reflexive cowards; they are often calculated ones. And there are plenty of reasons we haven’t seen a mass exodus of GOP lawmakers from Trump — if lots of them do indeed agree with Corker.

Here are five non-mutually exclusive possibilities:

  1. They still hope — against hope — that Trump will change
  2. It’s an unnecessary risk, from a self-preservation standpoint
  3. Some have paid the price for it
  4. They don’t trust themselves
  5. It could destroy the GOP

Check out Blake’s column for elaborations of these reasons why (most) Senators are not speaking up against Trump’s transgressions.

Scriber adds a possible sixth reason. Despite his overt, obvious behavioral aberrations and the inferred character flaws, the Senators agree with him and his agenda. His agenda (e.g., destroying all things Obama) is the Republican Senator’s agenda.

Susan Glasser, Politico’s international columnist, reports on an illuminating interview with a long-time Republican lobbyist, Ed Rogers: For Trump, “Consequences Are Piling Up” with Republicans in Washington. The President’s feud with Senator Bob Corker has spurred fellow-Republicans to register varying degrees of disgust, dismay, fury, and disappointment about the state of affairs in the White House.

When I cited Corker’s comments that most Republicans at least privately shared the belief that the White House had been turned into an “adult day care” center for its capricious seventy-one-year-old chief resident, Rogers offered his own criticism of the White House.

A sampling: “They’re grasping at straws.” “There is a permanent hunkered-down quality.” “It’s shocking, it’s embarrassing.” “They’re just making it up every day as they go along.”

And yet, he hesitated when I asked whether Republicans agreed with Corker that Trump was dangerous. “I think the word ‘dangerous’ is still a rare word,” Rogers corrected me, saying that the words “reckless” and “destructive” were far more common. He went on, “Saying the D-word is different than believing there are now stewards of normalcy in [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, in Tillerson, in Kelly, and others that, I think everybody acknowledges, are protecting institutions from Trump, and protecting Trump from Trump, for that matter.”

“The only thing that is reliable and dependable about Trump is that he’s unreliable and not dependable,” he added.

So why is Rogers - and the rest of the Washington Republicans - so reticent?

… he was in no mood to defend Trump. The constant tweeting, the personal attacks on his own team, were taking a toll. “Every week!” Rogers said. “It’s surreal.” Then he paused, almost groaning when he asked, “Why does it have to be this way?”

Republicans, I observed, seemed to be finding life under Trump a lot harder than Democrats, and Rogers agreed. “You want to be loyal,” he said. “You want to be a good member of the team.”

So there it is: a seventh reason, a drive for loyalty, a motive to be a team player.

And there is another possible eighth reason - fear. (This is related to reason #3 above.) The AP reports, via the Daily Star, that Steve Bannon is waging open war on Republican Senators: Bannon on GOP insurgency: ‘Nobody can run and hide’.

Steve Bannon has a stark message to Republican incumbents he considers part of the establishment: “Nobody can run and hide.”

President Trump’s former chief strategist is promoting a field of potential primary challengers to take on disfavored Republicans in Congress and step up for open seats.

Among the outsiders: a convicted felon, a perennial candidate linked to an environmental conspiracy theory and a Southern lawmaker known for provocative ethnic and racial comments.

It’s an insurgency that could imperil Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

Senate Republicans had been upbeat about adding to their 52–48 majority, especially with Democrats defending more seats next year, 10 in states Trump won in last year’s presidential election.

But the Bannon challenge could cost them, leaving incumbents on the losing end in primaries or GOP candidates roughed up for the general election.

In Arizona, Bannon is backing former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who is challenging Trump antagonist Sen. Jeff Flake. Ward remains known for entertaining the debunked theory that jet aircraft are used to affect the weather or poison people intentionally.

By the way, the Daily Star carried a damning report on Trump’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act: Pro-Trump states most affected by his health-care decision. That is one of the “consequences” of Trump’s recklessness that will haunt the GOP.

So what has the GOP given us? What costs are these spineless, speechless invertebrates willing to bear? Dana Milbank (Washington Post) casts the answers as a new revision of The Holy Bible, according to Trump.

… The Bible is, after all, foreign law; none of it was written in America. It would, therefore, be in order for President Trump to revise biblical law by executive order — much as he used one this week to dismantle Obamacare without an act of Congress. He could place a copy of the order, etched in a 2 ½ -ton stone monument, in the White House Entrance Hall.

Some proposed revisions:

Note from Scriber: I’ve listed just some - my own personal faves.

In Mark 12:31, after the phrase “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” insert: “Thou shalt not interpret anything in Section 12:31 as applying to residents of Puerto Rico.”

In Matthew 5:5, after the phrase “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,” insert the phrase: “The meek shalt not necessarily inherit health insurance.”

In Exodus 20: 1–17, popularly known as “The Ten Commandments,” the following deletions, revisions and additions are to be made:

After the phrase, in 20:4, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” insert the language: “Exempt from the term ‘graven image’ will be: (a) Time magazine covers, actual or simulated; and, (b) life-size portraits of the president purchased at auction with charitable funds.”

The phrase, in Exodus 20:8–11, is hereby revised to state the following: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Acceptable remembrances of the sabbath include (a) any golf played in Bedminster, N.J., (hereafter referred to as The Land of Milk and Honey); (b) any golf played at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla. (hereafter referred to as the Garden of Eden).”

In Exodus 20:12, in the phrase “Honor thy father and thy mother,” insert: “Inasmuch as they hath given thee a very, very small loan of $14 million.”

In Exodus 20:13, after the phrase “Thou shalt not kill,” insert the following: “Thou mayest, however, totally destroy North Korea, which thou shalt accomplish by expanding thy nuclear arsenal tenfold.”

In Exodus 20:14, following the phrase “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” insert: “What thou has done with thine previous wives is thine own business.”

In Exodus 20:15, after the phrase “Thou shalt not steal,” insert: “Exempt from section 20:15 shall be ‘emoluments’ as defined in the U.S. Constitution.”

In Exodus 20:16, the phrase “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is to be amended with the following: “No Pinocchios, nor Pants-on-Fire, nor any other description of false witness by the Fake News Media shall be judged as evidence thou violated clause 20:16.”

In Exodus 20:17, after the phrase “Thou shalt not covet,” insert: “but thou canst grabbest whomsoever by whatsoever part, if thou art a star.”

Those are the values of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Republicans are faced with a gnashing, snarling, twittering menace to their existence. And the silence of the lambs is deafening.

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