Thursday, May 26, 2016
It seems that lately, I am having trouble reading headlines in the
conservative press because my eyes keep rolling. Case in point is
op-ed listing "5 Very Smart Things Donald Trump Has Done Since
Becoming the Presumptive GOP Nominee." I'll discuss two of these
bullet points because they pretty much exemplify Trump
and his latest converts, as well as anything they might happen to
Regarding former enemies "unifying" around Trump, about all I can muster is the mental equivalent of a sigh. Take the first bullet point:
1. Traveling to D.C. To Meet With Paul RyanLet me translate that first italicized passage: They got to pretend to stand up to Trump a little bit. The second such passage comes as no surprise either, given the GOP's decades-old appeasement of opponents. Although I don't think Trump is Hitler or we are ready for a dictatorship, I can't help but remember Neville Chamberlain's crowing about "peace in our time" after I read this. Smart? More like obvious, given that Trump is "smart" enough to want to use the party he is bullying into submission. He knows that, as cowards, they need a chance to feel like they've got an "in" with their new Big Man in Charge.
This was a win-win for Trump. His past condemnations of many of the party leaders in Washington -- and their doubts about his ability to lead the party -- made it very hard from an optics perspective for people like Ryan to simply throw their support behind Trump once it became clear he was the nominee.
A gesture was needed, something that these members of Congress could point to as evidence that they had brought Trump to heel or, at the very least, that they had expressed their concerns to him, he had heard them and both parties were satisfied with the outcome.
The mood in the wake of Trump's visit -- from Ryan to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus -- was ebullient. And, more importantly for Trump, it was clear that Ryan would, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be for him. [italics added, format edits]
And then we have the following bone he's tossing to the rest of us, in the form of a list of promises from a politician (albeit a new one) who has no discernible ideology but has repeatedly spoken of abusing the law to suit his own purposes:
4. Rolling Out a List of Potential Supreme Court PicksAntonin Scalia dissented against the Kelo decision, of which Trump is a huge fan. And, while I'd love a Justice Willett (whom I've heard is on the list) on the Supreme Court, this sounds too much like a bridge a dishonest real estate mogul is trying to sell me.
There's nothing that united the disparate elements of the Republican party base like talk of future Supreme Court nominees...
If you are looking to unite a fractious party, then, proposing a list of judges you would consider naming to fill the vacancy caused by the death of conservative hero Antonin Scalia this year is a very smart strategic play. Trump made no secret of his goal with the list: to put 11 names on it that would be totally unimpeachable in the eyes of conservative activists. Look at the kind of judges I would put on the Supreme Court, Trump is saying to doubting conservatives. And imagine the kind of judges Hillary Clinton would pick. See?
Politics may well be the "art of the possible," and Trump's nomination has indeed made many worthwhile and achievable goals less possible, but the proper reaction isn't to lick the boot that just stomped on them. It's to promise to do whatever is in one's power to stop Trump from further damaging the Republic, when necessary, and to help him on the off-chance he offers to do something constructive. Maybe the meetings are a way to do that -- with Trump -- but I'd appreciate hearing it, and ultimately, actions speak louder than words. But really, anyone could have said something like this without meeting with Trump.
Trump is issuing orders to those "uniting" around him and patronizing those who aren't. I'm abstaining from the presidential race and gagging while I vote for a Republican Congress this time around.
Today: Corrected a formatting error.