I understood when my Republican friends told me that Trump was an “empty vessel” with which they could achieve their policy objectives. They were willing to ignore his behavior in order to achieve progress on those things they thought were important. This is not unheard of in politics or in life in general. The question always is, when does behavior become so odious that it outstrips the value of the policy one believes in? I think we have found the moment for this presidency.
As has been pointed out by many, denouncing Nazis and the Klan is not usually an act of great political courage. But, of course, that was before the age of Donald Trump. He was incensed that first he needed to make a statement on Monday that was a repair job on his Saturday statement, and then to make it even more unacceptable to the President, he was still being criticized in the press. So, when he had the chance, he doubled down on his first instinct which was to ignore reality and fight. Even the Mooch understood the comments from Saturday were inappropriate, and this is from a guy who destroyed his government career in 10 days.
So, we had the spectacle of President Trump creating a moral equivalency between the Nazis and protesters. We even had him explain it by saying he waited until he “had facts” which he now claims to have. This from the man who ignited the “birther” movement and has lied so serially that catching him saying something untrue is not even particularly newsworthy. If watching the Nazis and Klan supporters march in a parade with torches, chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” was not chilling to your soul, you must not have one. The brutal beating of a young African American by these same thugs only reinforced the gorge factor which evidently eluded our President.
I had a conversation with a Republican friend this morning. He was appalled. We agreed that now it is up to the Republicans to act. Democrats need to be quiet and give Republicans the room and support they need to surround Trump with Congressional mandates which will limit the damage he can do. It won’t be good for the nation long term to hog tie the President, but in the short term we have to keep the likes of David Duke from using the words of the President in order to have more Charlottevilles. It is clear that Trump will not back down, so now is the time for the Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s of the world to step forward.
In the words of Hillel, “If I am not for me who shall be? If I am just for me, what am I? If not now, when?”