Monday, October 19, 2020

The GOP senators about to pay for 'their Faustian bargain'

Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark explains why it’s Too late for the GOP.

I’ll suppress top level quotes for your readability.

There’s a lot of buzz about the newfound eagerness of some GOP senators to distance themselves from Trump as he slouches toward defeat. But, actually, with the exception of Ben Sasse, there is precious little evidence that they are really breaking with the Orange God King in any meaningful way.

Because they can’t. It’s too late for them to take an off-ramp now.

My latest in the New York Daily News:

For better or worse, they are stuck with the die they cast long ago, to let themselves become Trumpian lickspittles. The bill for their Faustian bargain has come due.

Over the last four years, they ignored one chance after another to take an off-ramp from Trump. And while they might now boast about driving on his highway at 55 rather than 65, they’re driving on it nonetheless….

Frightened by the prospect of a presidential tweet, they ignored his crude xenophobia, his exploitation of racial divisions, his personal corruption, and his fascination with authoritarian thugs.

They could have said “stop” at any point. They could have raised their voices and used their votes to rebuff him. But they didn’t.

They told themselves that judges or tax cuts made it all worthwhile. They told themselves that this is what the GOP base wanted.

So they didn’t push back as a torrent of falsehoods flowed from the White House, or even when he targeted their own Senate colleagues with insults.

They watched impotently as Trump attacked and betrayed our allies and threatened to withdraw from NATO. They could have bailed when he downplayed the Russian attack on our elections, or when he sided with Vladimir Putin rather than our own intelligence agencies in Helsinki.

GOP senators had a chance to take an off-ramp when Trump fired the FBI director, or referred to immigrants from “shithole countries,” or when he praised the racist protesters in Charlottesville as including “very fine people.”

On October 2017, Jeff Flake tried to prick their consciences. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, the Arizonan made a plea for a return to decency.

“We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” he said. “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”

Rather than join in an awakening, not a single one of his colleagues joined Flake. Instead, they watched his Putinesque political defenestration and cowered in fear that they would share his fate.

Last fall, Trump critic Sasse, who many conservatives considered a bright light of the Senate, made his peace with Trump in exchange for the president’s support for his re-election.

“For Sasse,” wrote The Washington Post’s James Hohmann, “the past several months have represented something akin to surrender in the war for the soul of modern conservatism.”

If only Sasse’s surrender were an outlier. For Republicans, that has been the story of the last four years.

They continued to support Trump even when they saw families being separated at the border and kids in cages. They remained loyal when he helped the Saudis cover up the murder of a Washington Post journalist, and when it was revealed that he had called American soldiers “suckers and losers.”

They could have spoken out when he spread baseless conspiracy theories, or when he obstructed justice by dangling or giving pardons….

You can read the rest here.The cowards’ comeuppance: It’s too late for a radical reinvention of the Trump GOP.

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