On Monday night, in the span of thirty minutes, The Washington Post launched a flurry of nuclear-tipped Op-Eds aimed directly at Donald Trump and the Republican Party. There was no dancing around the issue. No false equivalence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. No “both sides do it” comparison of the GOP and Democratic Party. The Washington Post did something that is verboten in modern America: They spoke the unvarnished truth about Republicans and, wow, did it get ugly!
At 7:32 PM, the Editorial Board launched the first salvo: The rank nihilism driving the GOP’s acceptance of Trump. This entire column is a brutal slap to Reince Priebus’ face after spending all of Sunday morning poo-pooing any questions about Donald Trump’s pathological lying:
How, then, can Mr. Priebus argue that basic standards, such as honesty and transparency, do not apply? Because, he explained, voters do not seem to care about them — at least not so far. And if voters don’t care, Mr. Priebus doesn’t care: “We want to win in November, and Donald Trump is someone who has been winning.”
This is not the first time that the chairman has exposed the rank nihilism that is driving Republican leaders’ acceptance of Mr. Trump, and Mr. Priebus is far from alone.
But winning cannot excuse lying, debasing the country’s politics and driving wedges among its people
The Editorial Board condemned, in no uncertain terms, the Republican Party’s pursuit of victory at all costs:
Rudimentary adherence to the truth and respect for openness matter. Mr. Priebus and his confederates in amorality dismiss or excuse Mr. Trump’s mockery of these precious political values because they believe politics matters more than principle. Mr. Trump’s campaign will end, one way or another, in November. The disgrace of the Republicans who have supported him will not.
That’s exactly right. This is a permanent stain on the already sullied reputation of the GOP, the ultimate triumph of politics over, well, everything.
Next up was Eugene Robinson, a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show and other dirty liberal MSNBC shows, with Trump’s bizarre, dangerous neediness. A lot of people have made fun of Trump pretending to be his own publicist and then denying it but Robinson sees it as a giant red flag:
In my experience, most successful people could be described as needy in some sense. Trump, however, takes neediness to a bizarre and frightening extreme.
In case you missed the story, back in the 90s, Trump spoke to reporters over the phone pretending to be a publicist that bragged about how many women threw themselves at his “boss.” Even at the time, Trump admitted it was him and said it was just a joke. But when asked about it recently, he must have forgotten what he’d said because his immediate reaction was to lie, a confirmation of what Republicans have been saying about Trump for months:
Donald Trump’s opponents in the primaries were right to call him a con artist, a narcissist and a pathological liar. Just ask “John Miller.”
I don’t go so far as to think Trump could have believed these imaginary friends were real. But I do believe that Republican presidential contenders Marco Rubio (who called Trump a con artist), Bobby Jindal (who called him a narcissist) and Ted Cruz (who called him a pathological liar) should feel vindicated. And I believe the nation should be deeply worried about what sort of person the GOP is about to nominate for president.
Robinson sums up the problem with a nominee possessed of an incredibly low self-esteem but an enormous ego:
He has built a remarkable career on bluster, branding and relentless self-promotion. Self-regard bordering on self-worship and a willingness to bend the truth may have been assets that helped his rise. Insecurity and a need to be loved could have given him motivation. For a vainglorious mogul who lives to plaster his name across the New York skyline — and whose most consequential decision is whether to use travertine or Carrara marble — these are useful traits.
For a president of the United States, they could be catastrophic.
Trump is already building a list of people to punish for hurting his feelings as he runs for the White House. His pettiness and willingness to exact revenge would make Nixon look like thin-skinned boy scout in comparison.
The third op-ed is Richard Cohen’s Reince Priebus, fool and Cohen hammers both Priebus and Trump as viciously as anyone has so far:
I don’t know Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican Party (such as it is). He may be a very nice guy, what with a wife and kids and probably a car or two. Still, after watching him on the Sunday interview shows, I have concluded that the man has no pride, no shame and, almost certainly, no future. After Donald Trump loses the presidential election, the name Priebus will, like Quisling or even Boycott, take on a separate meaning: fool.
Cohen compares Priebus to Mad Men’s Don Draper: A salesman selling a deadly product because he just doesn’t care about the outcome. He’s not wrong. Trump is irredeemably worthless as a politician but he’s the only chance Republicans have to hold on to the Supreme Court and that’s all they care about at this point:
Just as Draper put his own welfare and that of his advertising agency before that of cigarette smokers, Priebus and others put the supposed good of the party over that of the nation. Trump would make a miserable, dangerous president — and Priebus must know it.
He absolutely does but the ends justify the means in the world of the Republican Party.
Cohen finishes off by despairing of Republicans ever realizing what they’ve reduced themselves in the mindless pursuit of power:
Will Priebus have his Don Draper moment? Draper, a smoker himself, finally renounced cigarettes — he would sell out no more. Will Priebus and others in the Republican Party do the same? Will they get a glance of themselves in the mirror and wonder out loud what they stand for and if they have any pride left? I doubt it. Donald Trump has blanched the Republican Party of its honor and has played his most fervent supporters for suckers. It’s as if he was put on Earth to make fools out of his fellow Republicans — and give Reince Priebus something to do on Sundays.
If Reince Priebus still has a job after November, I would seriously start asking who he’s blackmailing. It’s the only explanation.
Finally, the coup de grâce is delivered by Michael Gerson, himself a conservative. If Republicans were hoping to just dismiss the Post’s broadside as a liberal attack, they’re out of luck. Looking at the article’s url, the original title was “Conservatives cave to the caveman” and it’s easy to see why. Michael Gerson blasts the Republican Party for surrendering all reason, common decency and principles to appease the knuckle-headed and knuckle-dragging Trump:
In the category of credit where credit is due, Donald Trump has been exactly right in one important respect. He attacked the Republican establishment as low-energy, cowering weaklings. Now Republican leaders are lining up to surrender to him — like low-energy, cowering weaklings. The capitulation has justified the accusation.
This, really, has been the story of the GOP since 2010. After unleashing the populist hate and rage of the Tea Party and using it to ride to power, Republicans found it difficult to control it. After losing badly in 2012, they tried to rein it in and failed. By 2014, they’d completely given up. By the time Trump rolled around in 2015, the best Republicans could do was put up a token resistance.
Now, they’re just scrambling to justify themselves:
It is humorous — in a sad, bitter, tragic sort of way — to see Republican leaders, and some conservative commentators, try to forget or minimize Trump’s history of odious proposals and statements. The argument seems to be: “I say tomato. You say Mexican immigrants are rapists. What’s the big difference?”
And this is where the real problem lies: By embracing Trump, Republicans have finally dropped any pretense they’re not the party of hate and rage:
Pursuing the short-term interests of the GOP, gained by unity, may damage or destroy the party in the longer term by confirming a series of destructive stereotypes. Republicans stand accused of disdaining immigrants; their nominee proposes to round up and deport 11 million people. Republicans are accused of religious bigotry; their nominee proposes to stop all Muslims at the border. Republicans are accused of a war on women; the Republican nominee, if a recent New York Times exposé is accurate, is the cave-man candidate.
And while modern American conservatism is fueled by racism and bigotry, the ideology of conservatism is not and that’s a problem for actual conservatives:
All this is a particular blow to conservatives, among whom I count myself. Conservatives latched on to the GOP as an instrument to express their ideals. Now loyalty to party is causing many to abandon their ideals. Conservatism is not misogyny. Conservatism is not nativism and protectionism. Conservatism is not religious bigotry and conspiracy theories. Conservatism is not anti-intellectual and anti-science. For the sake of partisanship — for a mess of pottage — some conservatives are surrendering their identity.
It is a very bad deal.
It certainly is and one that Republicans made with little reluctance. After 8 years of standing for nothing but the opposite of whatever Obama wants, even if what he wanted was in line with Republican values, how difficult was it going to be for Republicans to jettison whatever values they had left?
Here’s to hoping that The Washington Post doesn’t relent in holding the feet of Donald Trump and the GOP to the fire. It will be a refreshing contrast to much of the corporate media that is already hard at work whitewashing Trump to keep the election close and
profitable exciting. America needs real journalism now more than ever.
Featured image via CatholicVote.org