The White House / Flickr trump pence ryan...
The White House / Flickr

Horse. Barn.

At least 27 Republicans have sought professional advice over concerns that working for President Trump’s administration could damage their reputation, according to The Washington Post.

Indeed, the Post’s focus is on whether top-level Republican nervousness at jumping into Operation Tire Fire and rolling around a bit is, perhaps, hurting Team Trump’s efforts to staff up their still-skeletal administration.

Republicans say they are turning down job offers to work for a chief executive whose volatile temperament makes them nervous. They are asking head-hunters if their reputations could suffer permanent damage, according to 27 people The Washington Post interviewed to assess what is becoming a debilitating factor in recruiting political appointees.

Among the top concerns: that Trump will throw them under the proverbial bus as quickly as he has everyone from Sessions to Rosenstein; that they will immediately have to lawyer up; that the administration’s leadership is “equally incoherent and unclear.” In other words, the Post had no trouble at all in finding top-level Republicans, past or present, who had a clear view of just how toxic the Trump administration has already become, and are willing to forgo high-profile government posts that they would otherwise covet because they fear working with Trump would tarnish their reputations “permanently.”

Which is very interesting news, because you know who’s not concerned that helping to enable Trump’s “incoherent and unclear” actions will permanently damage their reputations as competent—or at least, non-crooked—leaders? Every. Single. Serving. Republican. Lawmaker.

Take a stroll to the House or the Senate, and you won’t find a single high-ranking Republican willing to detach themselves from the notion that, say, a sitting president has the perfect right to charge money for holding meetings with government or foreign officials in his own corporate properties. During hearings to investigate possible collusion between Trump-connected campaign and administration officials and foreign intelligence operations you’re not likely to hear even one substantive question from a Republican on anything but the inherent outrageousness of the public learning about these things. There’s not only no stomach to feign outrage at a sitting president privately requesting the FBI drop the investigation into one of his underlings—you’ll be hard pressed to find a top Republican lawmaker not willing to publicly defend the move.

So the answer to Trump’s staffing problems would appear to be clear: Simply hire Republican lawmakers.

They don’t seem to be concerned that the smell of corruption will tarnish them. They have no apparent issues with incoherent and conflicting administration rhetoric. There doesn’t seem to be anything coming from the Trump White House that they aren’t willing to support. By golly, we appear to have the one group of Republicans in all of America who don’t have any compunction whatsoever about tying themselves to an incompetent, illiterate, grifting and under-multiple-investigations administration. Why is Team Trump trying to recruit Republican issue experts and lobbyists? Hire these guys, they’ll do anything.

It remains noteworthy that journalists appear to have no problems whatsoever finding dozens of Important Republicans willing to grouse about administration incompetence and corruption so long as they are allowed to do it anonymously, but prop any elected, currently-in-power Republican in front of a television camera and they can hardly find an unkind word to say about any administration action. What are we to make of this? Is there a dimensional rift involved? Are Republican ethics subject to quantum effects, such that publicly observing them changes their state?  Or are we truly seeing a complete cognitive split between the conservative/Republican functionary class, fully aware of Trump’s buffoonery and corruption, and currently elected Republicans, who can’t parse out any of it?

It is a quandary. It is almost as if the party purports to have one set of ethics in abstract, but another when the time comes to actually act upon them; it is almost as if both private and public Republicans are engaged in whichever behavior will serve them best in the current venue, distancing themselves and the party from Trump so long as their name is not attached but obsequiously currying personal favor with the erratic nut whenever they suspect he might be watching.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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