Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Republicans stand by and stare as Trump shoots America

This morning one of my friends expressed disgust, not at Trump (reason being that we all knew what to expect from him) but at the Republicans in congress and all others who support Trump in spite of the damage he inflicts on our country every single day. You might recall that Scriber has been saying that the real story of 2016 and the rise of Trump is not so much Trump as those who support him no matter what.

Donald Trump controversially observed that he could shoot an individual on a widely trafficked New York City street and not “lose one voter.” That is true according to factchecking by Snopes.

Now to put it in context, Snopes informs us that “The comment was part of a larger point Trump was making about the loyalty of his voting base”.

Trump knows that he can stand on stage in Helsinki, sucking up to the KGB agent now dictator of Russia, disparage America and its institutions, alienate our allies, and not lose a single Republican in congress. That also is true according to Scriber’s reading of the news about reactions to the Helsinki summit.

To put this one also in context, it is about the loyalty Trump enjoys amongst the Republicans in congress. Like, for example, AZ Senator Jeff FLake, the congressional Republicans might say Trump has done wrong, but they honor their bargain with him.

That’s the theme of John Cassidy’s column at the New Yorker, What’s Changed Between the G.O.P. and Trump After Helsinki: Nothing.

Donald Trump’s rise within the Republican Party is often described as a hostile takeover, and there’s obviously some truth in that description. But after Trump won the G.O.P. Presidential nomination, in 2016, most of the Party’s leaders in Washington made their peace with him, on the basis of an arrangement that is still in effect today.

… Trump agreed to campaign for other Republican candidates. He also agreed to abide by many of the central tenets of the G.O.P. faith, including its devotion to tax cuts, deregulation, and the dismantling of the liberal welfare and administrative state.

Trump has, however, insisted on adding some twists to the Republican platform, some of which—such as protectionism and suspicion of international alliances—contradict the old dogma. But internal consistency is a goal that democratic mass movements never fully achieve, and the Trump-G.O.P. concordat has proved more durable than many observers expected, surviving eighteen months of chaos, controversies, and occasional big setbacks, such as the failure to repeal Obamacare. Trump’s recent criticism of nato allies, and his denial of Russian election hacking at a press conference with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, have provoked an enormous political reaction, but nothing that has transpired in the past few days suggests that the Trump-G.O.P. deal is about to break apart.

To the contrary, both the President and his party are determined to get the Helsinki fiasco behind them and return to business as usual. “I take him at his word if he says he misspoke, absolutely,” the Ohio senator Rob Portman told Fox News, on Tuesday, shortly after Trump’s pitiful effort to walk back his comments at the press conference. Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, commented: “I can’t read his intentions or what he meant to say at the time. Suffice it to say that for me as a policymaker, what really matters is what we do moving forward.”

A few Republicans did call Trump’s comments disgraceful, but fear and short-term self-interest still have most of them cowed. At the grass roots of the Party, there is no sign of Trump’s supporters deserting him, which makes it very dangerous to cross him. …

But fear of Trump and his cult of personality isn’t the entire story. In their state of subjection, many Republicans console themselves with the thought that, in policy terms, the concordat is still holding, as evidenced, for example, by Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative scion of the Republican establishment, to the Supreme Court.

With a Republican-controlled congress, there is little chance that anything meaningful will come of attempts to constrain Trump from standing on more Helsinki podiums and doing the national security equivalent of shooting America.

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