MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace is fed up with the media narrative that Republicans won’t buck Donald Trump because he’s got them shaking in their Guccis or Manolos.
“We covered this incorrectly,” she cut loose on the Fourth Estate the other day. “Fear of Trump was the excuse. For all of Mitch McConnell and Rob Portman and Kevin McCarthy and all these weenies who looked the other way when Casey Hunt and Leanne Caldwell and Garrett Haake were there with a camera saying, ‘Do you believe…this outrageous thing that Donald Trump tweeted today?’ and our frame was they must be afraid of our cameras because they’re scared of Trump.”
Wallace reloaded and fired again: “We were wrong. They are Trump….This story is no longer about Trump. It’s what…Trump revealed the Republicans to be. And I dare say my old boss [President George W. Bush]… was putting it nicely…when he said Republicans now…stand for isolationism, protectionism and nativism, and I’ll add one more, flagrant racism, and how do you not lump extremism into it too if you look at the intersection between the ideology that represents the greatest domestic violent extremism threat and the lies that Kevin McCarthy refused to knock down when Chris Wallace gave him multiple chances to do so yesterday?”
Wallace, the former Bush II White House communications director, “can be pretty tough on herself, the media, and others to make her point,” Egberto Willies wrote in Daily Kos after quoting her. “Today she told an unfortunate truth. It is one where too many in the media are hard-pressed to articulate vociferously….While Wallace has been bold as she gets these epiphanies, too often mainstream media journalists are stuck in their ways providing the cover for those [for] whom the status quo is most effective.”
Retired Louisville Courier-Journal editor David Hawpe disagrees with Wallace, sort of.
“I could be wrong,” confessed the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer. “It’s just what my gut tells me. I don’t think formerly mainstream Republicans share Trump’s view. I think they fear he could help defeat them. But maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part.”
I don’t know if Wallace or Hawpe is right. But most Republicans are still marching–goose-stepping?–to the beat of Trump’s drum, though “measured or far away” in Florida. (Apologies to Henry David Thoreau, a Never, Never Trumper for sure if he were still hanging out at Walden Pond.)
It doesn’t matter if most Republicans are displaying profiles in cowardice over America’s first–and thankfully former–authoritarian wannabe. The fraidy cats and the faithful are worshipping together at the Make-America-White-Again altar.
Trump apparently wants another crack at emperorhood. Mitch McConnell said he’d “absolutely” back Trump if he’s the GOP nominee in 2024.
Oh, McConnell has occasionally maligned Trump. So has GOP grandee James A. Baker III, who even called Trump “nuts.” But he–and presumably Moscow Mitch–voted for Trump, both times.McConnell twice voted against turning Trump out of office.
Anyway, at every election cycle we hear variations on the Baker alibi: “The guy’s dumb as a box of rocks, crooked as a snake, etc., but I voted for him anyway.”
News flash: votes aren’t weighted. Grudging ballots count the same as gung-ho ones.
McConnell recently bragged that every Republican senator opposes President Biden’s infrastructure plan, which Trump trashed during a time out from his pity partying at Mar-a-Lago.
Okay, we’ll probably never know if it’s mainly fear or fealty that’s keeping so many Republicans so loyal to America’s Sawdust Caesar. But all that counts is that they are.
“This time around, Trump’s lawless ambitions have been limited by unamused courts, by courageous state and local officials, by a vigilant mainstream press, by a Democratic House, by his own buffoonish leadership and by an ideologically moderate Democratic candidate who won a reasonably large electoral victory,” Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post a little over a month after Biden was elected. “Only the Republican Party utterly failed in checking Trump’s incipient authoritarianism.”
Warned Gerson, a Bush II White House bigwig like Wallace: “But these conditions are hardly permanent. Could Trump win reelection in 2024 against a more ideologically extreme Democratic candidate? Of course he could. Would any Republican official, at any level of government, stand up against a vengeful authoritarian with electoral mandate? It is not likely. Would Trump expand executive power at every turn? He would, particularly if both the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans. Would Trump openly intimidate journalists and political opponents with willing, armed militias? I don’t doubt it. Would he simply ignore court rulings that limit him? I bet he would try. Would he try to manufacture a crisis to justify remaining in power past his term? No scruple would prevent it.”
Meanwhile, precious few Republicans have any scruples about boosting back to the White House a racist, sexist, misogynist, nativist, xenophobic, homophobic demagogue, who is also a hypocrite, serial liar, lout, fraud and religious bigot whose heroes are murderous foreign dictators, notably his pal Putin.
To be sure, Wallace is on the money about Trump showing the country what the Republicans really are, and have been since the GOP trotted out the “Southern Strategy” in the 1960s and 1970s to win over erstwhile white Democrats in Dixie who hated to see Jim Crow go. Reagan took the race-baiting nationally. Trump, the Yankee George Wallace, turned the dog-whistle into a bullhorn.
“One of the poisonous legacies of Donald Trump’s presidency has been to expand the boundaries of expressible prejudice,” Gerson wrote last March. “Through the explicit practice of White-identity politics, Trump has obviated the need for code words and dog whistles. Thus his strongest supporters during the Jan. 6 riot felt free to carry Confederate battle flags and wear ‘Camp Auschwitz‘ sweatshirts without fear of reproof from their political allies. Many in the crowd surely didn’t consider themselves racists, but they were perfectly willing to make common cause with racists. In social effect, it is a distinction without a difference.”
Whether out of cowardice or conviction, nearly the entire GOP is keeping the home fires burning in anticipation, eager or not, of Trump turning Mar-a-Lago into what Gerson called 45’s “St. Helena, not his Elba.”