So it may look like we planned it that way but, scout’s honor, we didn’t. Mere coincidence it was that hard on the heels of last week’s piece about the “darling of the ignorami” being unabashedly aided and abetted by the media, came news of a Quinnipiac poll’s determination that half of the country would be embarrassed by a Donald Trump presidency. With due respect to Quinnipiac’s methodology, respected polling organization as it is, our gut reaction is that a snapshot reading of half the country being ashamed falls quite a bit shy of the mark. Or, put another way, it would be in the country’s best interests that considerably more than half the citizenry felt appalled by the prospect of a Trump presidency.
Our “laughingstock” reference last week, in terms of how the rest of the civilized world perceives the non-stop attention accorded a clown candidate for U.S. president, is no joke. If, in spite of claiming their party has little in common with such a revolting figure, the folks who “run things” in the GOP continue to make like he’s very much a part of their process, their objections must not be very real. They too, as we suggested last week of the media, are in need of an injection of principle, if the primary concern about cutting Trump loose is how he would affect their White House chances were he to run as an independent. I mean, under normal circumstances, it should be a no-doubt-about-it no-brainer for any respectable political institution to relinquish ties with anyone who, under its banner, has so debased the nomination quest. If Republicans remain reluctant to disavow any affiliation with the guy who out-polls other GOP contenders, it only underscores the poor iteration of its former self that they’ve opted for as today’s GOP model.
Operating as he does, even beyond the outer limits of tastelessness, Trump’s projection of the GOP brand obviously gets under the skin of some party headliners. But if he’s being more blatantly racist, more recklessly insensitive to individuals or groups of whatever orientation, or being otherwise true to his odious nature, his is merely a coarser version of GOP stock. For sure, the Republican Party today is much more embracing of the polarizing, hateful bilge pouring from Trump than it would be of moderate or somewhat moderate party standouts of the past. They would be sidelined, bereft-of-influence hangers-on in today’s GOP, those onetime heavy hitters like New York’s John Lindsay, Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits; Connecticut’s Lowell Weicker; New Jersey’s Christine Todd Whitman; and others hailing even from mid-western or border states. The GOP’s deliberate tracking in recent decades toward ideological rigidity made clear that strict pursuit of a right-flank agenda more or less precluded any room for compromise on what now constituted the party’s bedrock values.
There’s no question that Obama’s elevation to the presidency stiffened resolve among Republicans to push back against any action, executive particularly so, deemed inconsistent with the interests of battle-ready gladiators controlling GOP turf. What became clear quite early was that a lot of the hardened anti-Obama posturing constantly in place on the Republican side was personal — engendered by resentment of the very idea that an African American occupied the high seat of American power. Upshot of which was that in continuous policy disagreements with the president, congressional Republicans have routinely opted for intractable positions. Shutting down the government or threatening not to pass debt ceiling adjustment legislation is typical of the devil-may-care rebelliousness infesting the GOP ranks. The ramped-up anti-Obama fervor even gave rise to an evidently even more venomous Tea Party.
Outside of government circles, Trump made sure his was a non-official voice that got heard above the din of anti-Obama caterwauling. Characteristically, his playing of the race card would outdo others and burrow into uncharted territory. He would question the president’s veracity about being American born. He would question that anyone named Obama could display scholastic prowess at Columbia and Harvard. When the president had the audacity to win a second term, Trump suggested a march on Washington, presumably by himself and fellow racist idiots.
If this campaign season looks to be presenting GOP decision makers with the conundrum of whether or not to dump Trump, perhaps it shouldn’t. The GOP’s proud boast as the party of Lincoln having long faded into history, the GOP of 2016 is a whole other animal, with which Trump fits as well as the next guy. Some Republicans may see Trump as more booby prize than benefit. But…those are the breaks.