How come Repubs support Trump even though they know he’s a bad person?
I saw Andrew Card, George W. Bush’s chief of staff, on T.V. yesterday, blaming Senate Democrats for all the problems Trump is having (the gaffes, lies, policy failures, and so on). Card’s excuse: Senate Dems won’t confirm Trump’s appointments for mid-level executive positions, so Trump doesn’t have enough “truth to power” people around to give him sound advice.
When I heard that, my jaw just about dropped into my lap. Two problems: first, there’s no reason Senate Dems (or House Dems, for that matter) should cooperate with Trump on anything. When the reporter who was interviewing Card pointed this out, Card replied, “It’s not a partisan or political matter, it’s national security.” In other words, he suggested that Democrats must get behind this president if they love their country.
Look, this is the oldest lie in the book. Dictators are always arguing that the people have to support them to avoid chaos, invasion, etc. Patriotism, as Samuel Johnson reminded us, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Hitler did it. Pol Pot did it. Kim Jong-un does it. Scare the hell out of the people, and you can get away with anything. Well, Democrats know that game, and we’re not going to play it. That’s why I’ve told my California Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, in no uncertain terms: Do not cooperate with this illegitimate president. Resist!
Second problem with Card’s assertion: it pretty much comes right out and admits that the emperor has no clothes—that Trump is such an immature, foolish boor that he needs baby sitters 24/7 to keep him from crapping up the house. Well, Democrats know this. We’ve known it ever since Trump announced his candidacy, and we know it more than ever, after his disastrous first three months in office. But for a Republican “senior eminence” like Card to come out and say it is pretty breath taking.
Why would Card, or any powerful Republican, support a man who they admit is incompetent and unworthy of respect? In a word, power. Trump may be a ridiculous fool, a schmuck, a pathological liar, but he’s their fool, schmuck and liar. I heard Kelly Ayotte, the former Republican Senator from New Hampshire, the other day, being interviewed. The reporter went through the litany of Trump horrors (the pussy groping, especially) and asked Ayotte how she, as a woman, could possibly continue to support him. Ayotte’s reply (I paraphrase): “He may be a horrible person, and I deplore that, but as long as he espouses political beliefs I agree with, I will support him.”
That is simply dreadful. I think Kelly Ayotte, and lots of Trump supporters, must be having tough conversations with their daughters, their granddaughters, their women friends. In my view the essential quality a U.S. president must possess is leadership. And leadership is a moral quality. It has nothing to do with particular issues. I didn’t agree with Reagan on lots of things but he was a real leader. As another Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, observed, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
Is there a single Republican who would profess that Donald J. Trump possesses integrity? Why, now that you mention it, there is: Ann Coulter! Who, by the way, still insists she’s coming to U.C. Berkeley next week to talk to campus Repubs, even though officials canceled her speech—not to “silence” her, as she falsely alleges, but to prevent violence. With her race-baiting, mean spirit and snark, Coulter is the perfect Trump surrogate, as morally abject a human being as her idol.