by Bob Cesca
There's a virus rapidly overtaking the Republican Party. It's called Trumpism, and it's killing the party. Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly satisfied to see the current Trump-dominated GOP commit slow motion suicide, (hopefully) to be replaced by a party run by Normals from the ranks of the "Never Trump" coalition. I might disagree with these Republican Normals on policy, but in terms of institutions and Trumpism, we're entirely in agreement. It's enough of a foundation to re-build the American political discourse on the bedrock of basic decency and normalcy -- features that have been exorcised from Republican politics for 20 years, give or take.
Until then, it appears as if "Brand GOP" is inextricably linked to Nazis, Pedophiles, Traitors and Molesters.
How can it not be when the leader of the party, Trump, is guilty of at least a few of those labels? While we're here, let's spend a second on the "traitor" part. Not only is the Republican Party ensconced in defending American traitors who very likely conspired with Russia to undermine our democratic institutions, but Trump tweeted the following this week:
I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the U.S. is losing $100's of billions. How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would've done same!
In other words, the Republican president attacked and blamed Americans for being clueless, while defending China's predatory economic policies, all while standing on foreign soil. This is the leader of the party that prides itself on being patriotic. This is a leader who promised to put "America first" and "always" -- the president who promised to "defend America's interests above all else." Except for Russia's interests, of course. And now China's interests, too. America first, except Russia and China, right? And why China? Apparently because Trump thinks President Xi is his buddy. He's not. Trump knows nothing.
Not enough is being made of this latest episode of horrendousness by our president, probably because it doesn't involve rape or pedophilia. It's just Trump being a dick to America while standing on semi-hostile foreign soil. I'm old enough to remember when Bill Clinton was excoriated for having protested against the war in Vietnam while traveling to Moscow. Not Clinton's finest hour, but that was 50 years ago. Trump is the president, and only 11 months into his first and, fate willing, only term. There's a colossal difference.
And while the left isn't entirely populated by innocents, we're not branding ourselves as the "moral values" party either -- the party of traditional family values -- while also legislating the sexual morality of our fellow citizens, be they women seeking birth control and abortion procedures, or LGBT citizens seeking legally sanctioned marriages. Roy Moore, on the other hand, is accused of preying upon underage girls while also telling us how we should live and who we can and can't have sex with. You're not allowed to be a sexual predator while also telling the rest of us that we're sinners. Actually, yes -- he can, and he is. This is how low the GOP has fallen.
Likewise, the left didn't defend Anthony Weiner or John Edwards, and no one on the left is defending Louis CK. Yet Brand GOP in the Trump era demands that every able-bodied Republican defend every other Republican no matter the severity of the trespass. This is exactly what happened when Trump's Access Hollywood tape dropped. Circle the wagons around the pussy grabber, said the family values party. Of course, the pussy grabbing video overshadowed the fact that Trump is on video propositioning a 10-year-old girl. He's also quoted by the Chicago Tribune telling a 14-year-old girl he'd be dating her in "a couple years" -- ostensibly when she was 16. Say nothing of Trump confessing to wandering backstage during Miss Universe pageants in order to catch a glimpse of the naked contestants.
This is the real distinction. The left condemns sexual predators, even within its own ranks. The right kneejerks to the defense of its sexual predators. And its traitors. And its Nazis. As of this writing, the only Republican senators to condemn Roy Moore are John McCain and Mike Lee. Certainly the Never Trumpers are condemning him, too. But Fox News is in full damage control mode, while at least two Alabama Republicans preposterously compared the Moore story to either Jesus or the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph. Yeah, so not only are they defending Moore, but several Trumpers are suggesting he's Christ-like for molesting underage girls.
Make no mistake, the GOP brand is being wiped away and replaced with this horseshit. I suppose it was inevitable given how the party is no longer driven primarily by policies and ideas, it's all about trolling the left and winning elections at any cost, including selling out our sovereignty to the Russians in order to elect a confessed sexual predator who bragged that he molested women without their consent as a sort of masculine badge of honor? They sold out our sovereignty to elect a president who said on live television that there are "many fine people" among the ranks of Nazis -- Nazis that included a terrorist who plowed a car into a group of anti-fascist protesters, killing one and injuring a dozen others.
There's a baseline of cynicism and meanness permeating the GOP now. Anything goes. Nothing is out of bounds. Legislation destroys the lives of millions and its packaged as job-creation and as a messianic reversal of the evil Obama legacy. Trump's toxic behavior is packaged as the voice of the forgotten men and women, even though words have no meaning to Trump.
Basic empiricism -- the observable realities of the universe, easily debunk the obvious lies justifying of the despotism of the Trump GOP, yet it doesn't matter. Trump voters will continue to unquestioningly support their guy because he routinely pisses off the rest of us: The Normals on the left and the right. It's like a couple with herpes constantly swapping the disease back and forth. Trump feeds the Trumpers and the Trumpers feed Trump -- a Mobius Loop of mutually reinforced grievances and resentments. It's all that remains of the party when a foundation of substance is jettisoned in lieu of elevating a know-nothing tabloid goon to the highest office in the land.
In defending this behavior, Republican leadership has tainted itself with the stink of the rogues gallery, making them accomplices after the fact and augmenting the ranks of Nazis, Pedophiles, Traitors and Molesters. It's still possible for the GOP to wiggle its way out of this hell, but as time drags on and as Trump's Twitter feed grows, it'll become more and more difficult to pull out of the nosedive. And as I wrote earlier: I'm happy to let them crash.