The Republican Presidential Hall of Shame
In 1974, Richard Nixon, through a combination of arrogance and stupidity (but mostly arrogance), was forced to resign before he was impeached. Even though both Republicans and Democrats were ready to do the right thing, Nixon was still a Republican and the stain of Nixon’s Watergate scandal stayed with the party.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan was caught selling weapons to Iran in order to secretly fund anti-Sandinista groups in Nicaragua. Congress had expressly forbidden the United States to get involved in the Latin American country but Reagan did it anyway. If not for several people in his administration throwing themselves on their swords, there’s a very good chance Reagan would have been impeached as well. As it is, Iran-Contra was yet another stain on the Republican Party
On September 11, 2001, due to George W. Bush not taking the CIA’s urgent warnings seriously, terrorists killed almost 3,000 Americans and destroyed the Twin Towers. While the country rallied around the president at the time, after the fear and nationalism died down, we learned just how badly a Republican president had bungled the response to a clear and present danger.
In 2003, Bush and his administration lied the country into a war and then proceeded to mismanage it in the worst way imaginable. Over ten years later, we still haven’t been able to escape Bush’s quagmire. While some conservatives still maintain the war was justified, it’s well understood that the impetus for invading Iraq was completely manufactured.
In the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, George W. Bush’s (still Republican) administration turned what should have been a shining moment of American exceptionalism into a humanitarian disaster that left even developing nations begging America to let them help us. The richest, most powerful nation in the world left thousands of people without food, water or sanitation for days on end in the middle of one of its largest cities because we were too disorganized to help them.
In 2016, Donald Trump, a racist, misogynistic bully lacking in manners, intelligence and anything resembling dignity, became the presumptive nominee of one of America’s two main political parties. (Hint: It’s not the Democratic Party)
For the last half century, most of America’s greatest moments of political shame have come from the Republican Party. I’m not talking about the numerous NUMEROUS sexual scandals. There are so many and they’re more or less equally divided between the parties. No, I’m talking about the presidential scandals, epic blunders and actual crimes that will end in the history books and stay there for a very long time.
While Democratic presidents have had their share of embarrassments (cigars, interns and bungled website launches), Republicans have made presidential incompetence and malfeasance into an art form.
And, wow, does that piss them off.
It doesn’t anger them that their leaders haven’t lived up to the ideal of President of the United States, it angers them that Democrats have. That’s not to say Democratic presidents are perfect by any means. Jimmy Carter is a really nice guy and a role model for how to live an ACTUAL Christian life but he wasn’t a very good president. Yet, despite not being a great president, he didn’t have any scandals.
Bill Clinton is not nearly as nice as Jimmy Carter. He’s a serial philanderer that got caught cheating on his wife. But as far as presidential indiscretions go, this doesn’t rank very high on the Shock-o-Meter. He didn’t even have any illegitimate kids or sleep with a famous actress. Booooooring! But even after months upon months and millions of dollars wasted on investigations, the best Republicans could do was insinuate corruption and crimes with zero evidence.
Obama is the worst of all. He didn’t have ANY scandals. No affairs. No corruption. No secret arms deals. Nothing. Not that the media didn’t try to turn every misstep into a scandal, but it always turned out to be a big nothingburger.
That still leaves only Republicans as the incompetent crooks of modern presidential history and they can’t stand it. Something must be done to balance the scales.
Tit for Tat
Republicans excel at one thing and one thing only: Never letting something go. It’s been almost a century since Social Security was first passed and the GOP has been trying to kill it ever since. It’s been over 50 years since Medicare was passed and Republicans have been trying to “privatize” it for decades. The Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act. Roe v. Wade. Griswold v. Connecticut. The South losing the goddamned Civil War. All these things offend the modern Republican on a genetic level. They’ll never stop trying to undermine, re-litigate and overturn any fight they’ve lost no matter how long it takes. In 50 years, they will STILL be trying to make same-sex marriage illegal.
Their obsession would be admirable if they weren’t trying to undo 200 years of American progress.
This explains their constant attempts at recreating their greatest presidential failures but with a Democratic president at the helm. Instead of working to better themselves as a party, they simply want to drag the Democrats down in the mud with them. They want a Democratic president to go down in flames so badly they’ve spent every waking moment of the Clinton and Obama administrations trying to invent a scandal.
Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in the House for lying about a blow job but it went nowhere. They made such a big deal out of it that Clinton’s approval ratings actually increased. Americans don’t like bullies and Republicans overplayed their hand. They slapped the “gate” suffix to several non-scandals as well because, dammit!, they wanted payback!
After George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency, Republicans redoubled their efforts to balance the scales by obstructing the Obama administration. There was literally talk of impeaching him BEFORE he was even inaugurated and Republicans spent the following 8 years manufacturing scandal after scandal after scandal, hoping something would stick.
The corporate media, also dedicated to maintaining a “both sides” narrative, sided with Republicans and the conservative media in declaring everything from the BP oil spill to, I kid you not, the Swine Flu to be “Obama’s Katrina.” The Washington Post counted 23 different times the phrase “Obama’s Katrina” was used. I seriously doubt that’s the entire list.
There was less of an effort to tag “-gate” on Obama’s made up scandals, although this might be because IRSgate or Benghazigate sound silly. Still, the desperate need for Obama to suffer a Republican-style scandal was unrelenting. But he’s got 7 months left in office and the GOP has run out of time.
If you think they hated him before, wait until he walks out of the White House with his head held high. If you listen carefully, you’ll be able to hear the collective blood pressure of Republicans skyrocket with pure rage that they couldn’t even the score.
Even worse, with Donald Trump as their standard bearer, Republicans have reached a new level of political embarrassment. The solution?
Creating The Democratic Party’s Donald Trump
If Republicans spent the better part of 16 years trying to balance the scales with equivalent scandals, how will they balance the Trump equation? Donald Trump is a humiliation they couldn’t avoid. He’s a knuckle-dragging dimwit with a 5th-grade vocabulary. He’s painfully ignorant on every topic from basic economics to foreign policy and regularly throws temper tantrums that make toddlers look mature by comparison.
There simply is no way the Democratic Party will ever elect someone so patently unqualified to be president so Republicans will have to invent the Democratic Donald Trump.
After Trump is crushed in November, Republicans and the conservative media are going to start declaring that such and such Democratic candidate is “just like Trump.” It won’t matter how nonsensical it sounds, they’ll push it and pray it sticks. Hillary will be labeled “Trumplike” every time she makes a gaffe. “Trump” will become a catchall insult for doing something dumb or extreme and Republicans, still aided by the corporate media, will throw it around like confetti.
Republicans have spent decades trying to spread their shame to the Democrats, adding every new failure to their list of things to avenge. There is no possible way they won’t try to inflict “Trump” on the Democratic Party to assuage their humiliation.
Watch for it.
Featured image via Getty