The New York Times did as much as anyone to create the Trump presidency, and now they’ve published an op-ed from a White House insider who claims to be part of a double secret probation cabal that is working to prevent Trump from being an even worse disaster than the public realizes he is. A cabal of White House insiders supposedly flouts Trump’s commands, even swiping papers off his desk, to prevent him from knowing what’s actually going on in his own administration, and to prevent him from doing what he intends to do. Rest easily, this anonymous cretin reassures, there’s resistance inside the White House itself.
I call bullshit.
Here’s a clue: If you’re violating constitutional norms to prevent a constitutional crisis, we’re already there. If Trump is too stupid and too unhinged to fulfill his constitutional obligations, the answer isn’t for those working for him to supercede his authority, it’s to use legal and constitutional mechanisms to remove him from office. But they don’t want to remove him, they want to control him for their own craven purposes. The op-ed was written by someone pretending to be principled while having no principles at all. Some only half-jokingly speculated that it was written by Mike Pence. It just as easily could have been the work of that queen of complicity, Ivanka. Everyone on the inside desperately wants people to believe they’re really secretly on the outside.
Trump is a disaster, undermining national security, likely at the behest of a foreign controller, and the best thing he has going for his tenure in office is the growing economy he inherited from the predecessor he routinely rants against. Perhaps nothing haunts him more than the idea that he really ought to be saying “Thanks, Obama!” But Trump is as incapable of gratitude as he is of contrition. Or self-reflection. Or empathy. Or dignity. Or any other basic trait that allows a child to evolve into a complete human being. The Oval Office has seen plenty of wretched occupants, but never before has it hosted one who was so fundamentally, so profoundly, small.
That Trump is unfit to be president has been obvious since he first floated the idea of seeking the office, seemingly on a whim, decades ago. That 63 million people actually voted to put him in office speaks to the depth of the crisis this nation faces, and the failure of an education system that has been slowly gutted since the time of Reagan. Trump is a symptom of a cultural and societal collapse, and the inability or unwillingness of anyone who can to do anything realistic to stop him is just more evidence of the depth of the rot. The entire Republican Party is complicit. Those last principled Republicans jumped ship before Trump won the Electoral College. But they have no power. The Republicans who do have power are every bit as responsible for this crisis as is Trump himself.
It has become a game. A ruse. A White House insider claims to be surreptitiously standing up to Trump. More White House insiders talk to the king of access “journalism,” Bob Woodward, because they want everyone to believe that they were above the rank cesspool in which they actually wallow. Republican Senators such as Bob Corker (TN), Jeff Flake (AZ), Ben Sasse (NE), and Susan Collins (ME) occasionally feign outrage, but like the anonymous insiders in the New York Times op-ed and Woodward’s book, they do exactly nothing. That’s the tell. They don’t want Trump to go away, they just want him to be a little less of raving lunatic so they can continue to use him for their own nefarious ends. His agenda is theirs. He is what the Republican Party has become.
One only need look at the staggering hypocrisy of Republicans shaking their heads at Democratic outrage over the panicked confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. They won’t allow actual vetting of his record, they’re hiding documents not only from the public but from the senators who are trying to fulfill their constitutional roles to advise and consent, and they’re shrugging at what increasingly looks to be actual perjury. And as they shatter norms, and gaslight caterwaul that the Democrats are being mean, they don’t even bother to pretend that anyone has forgotten that they didn’t even give Merrick Garland a hearing.
Congressional Republicans don’t care any more than Trump does about constitutional strictures or the rule of law. They have Roe v. Wade to get rid of. And Obamacare to repeal. And decades of environmental and civil rights and worker safety and social justice progress to eviscerate. If they have to help burn down the republic, well a functioning republic won’t ever let them get their way again, anyway. So, if Trump wants to shut down the investigations into his being owned by a foreign despot, that’s just part of the larger plan. For those clinging to ideologies that are increasingly demographically obsolete, despotism is the only path forward. If only Trump will be a little less obvious about it. That’s all they really care about. That’s their only real motive.
There are principled Never Trump Republicans. None holds national elective office. None works in the White House. None plays the game of pretending to work in the White House. The ones with actual principles not only spoke out against Trump, they encouraged people to vote for Hillary Clinton as the only alternative to Trump. They now encourage everyone to vote for Democrats this November, not only to save the nation, but also to salvage their party. They alone, among Republicans, will ever have any credibility on anything ever again. Not one Republican member of Congress ever will. Not one Republican member of the Senate ever will. But as much as we can appreciate the efforts of Never Trump Republicans, and as much as they deserve respect for legitimately doing what they can to help this nation survive this crisis, in one way they are simply wrong.
It gives me no pleasure in saying it, but at some point Never Trump Republicans are going to have to realize that if the republic does survive as a republic, and if they want to build a principled conservative alternative to a Democratic Party that now is the nation’s only hope of preserving said republic, it won’t be by rebuilding the Republican Party. They will have to start anew. It’s been done before, and it can be again. Because the Republican Party is Trump’s Party. Every congressional and Senate Republican is a Trump Republican. Everyone who works or who has worked in the White House is a Trump Republican. And if the republic survives, it will be because the Republican Party did not. The republic still can be saved, but the Republican Party cannot.