in a Washington Post column titled The populist mask is slipping for Trump and the GOP.
In his opening paragraph, where he offers a quote from Trump’s campaign literature about Clinton’s supposed criminality that he now says is more applicable to himself, he says of the voters that in 2016
they gave power to a Republican Party whose only purpose is to comfort the already extremely comfortable.
It is this purpose which in Dionne’s eyes tie closely together the Republican party, as it is led in Congress by Ryan and McConnell, and the President.
Dionne views Friday Dec 1 as very important, both because of the Republicans in the Senate passing the horrific tax bill (McConnell announced they had the votes Friday, although the actual vote was early Saturday) and Michael Flynn going into court and pleading guilty to lying to the FBI (a plea that clearly indicated his cooperation with Mueller, something made even more clear in documents filed with the Court that accompanied the plea).
For Dionne, what happened in the Senate was key, because the tax bill heralded
the death of anything resembling a populist form of conservatism within the Republican Party. Plutocracy will now be the GOP’s calling card.
There is much more in this very good column.
He comments further on this in the following paragraph:
Republicans proved one other thing: What they say when they are out of power should never be believed again. Their progressive opponents, in turn, should never feel constrained in the future to limit their own ambitions out of deference to empty slogans about the superiority of bipartisanship.
We then get a reminder of the hypocrisy this represents, by way of a comparison of the rhetoric and action of Congressional Republicans during the Obama administration. As compared to the rhetoric then about the necessity of governing from the center and crafting legislation on a bipartisan basis, we now see that
The party is running roughshod over democratic accountability and falling short of even minimal expectations of congressional decorum.
But the guts of the column appear in the final four paragraphs.
I cannot, within fair use, simply just quote all of that.
He begins by telling us at the end of the previous paragraph that Trump is nothing but a clownish version of an “old-fashioned corporate conservative,” and then says
There is not an authentically populist bone in this billionaire’s body. He regularly demonstrates his utter contempt for working people by treating them as rubes.
Dionne reminds us of some of the gross things Trump has said and done, and that his interest is in tilting the government away from serving those in need and towards the interests of his family and his rich friends.
The next paragraph provides some sense of hope that the American people are too smart to be totally taken in, because they
know when someone is selling them out — because, sadly, it’s something they are familiar with.
He says of the coincidence of the two events on Friday that they are VERY DANGEROUS to Trump:
The president’s populist mask is slipping at the very moment when he most needs to rally the troops. Flynn, who cherished the phrase “lock her up,” came face to face with the slammer himself and decided that loyalty to this most unfaithful of leaders was not worth the price. About this, at least, Flynn is right.
But it is in the final paragraph that the column has its most important message:
But don’t count on Republican politicians abandoning Trump quickly now that their tax victory is in sight. They and the president have a lot more in common than either side wants to admit. The primary loyalty they share is not to God or country or republican virtue. It is to the private accumulation of money, and this is a bond not easily broken.
If anyone has any doubts about this, and think that those Republicans on the Hill will once Trump signs the final tax legislation be willing to consider clipping his wings or removing him from office, all one needs to do is to see McConnell yesterday move from a total rejection of Roy Moore serving in the Senate to saying it was up to the voters of Alabama. That should remind people that all those Republicans who were horrified over remarks in the Access Hollywood tape (which Billy Bush says in this op ed in today’s New York Times that Trump said and that everyone on the bus heard him say it) and who at the time rejected supporting Trump nevertheless then turned around and supported him.
It is sad to say of those in a party that was established on the moral principle of opposition to slavery to say of it now as Dionne does in those final two sentences:
The primary loyalty they share is not to God or country or republican virtue. It is to the private accumulation of money, and this is a bond not easily broken.