Thirteen Republican Senators, all white men, have been meeting in secret to write a healthcare bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with serious tax cuts for the rich. The thirteen are led by the odious Senate Majority Leader, the conscience-free Senator from Kentucky, who masterminded the successful theft of Merrick Garland’s seat on the Supreme Court. That means they’ll probably produce something 50 Senators will vote for. That’s all they’ll need to pass the bill, because the dimwitted religious fanatic who is Vice President will almost certainly break a 50-50 tie in evil’s favor.
The Senate Majority Leader announced a few minutes ago that a “discussion draft” of the bill will probably be made public this week. He wants to bring the bill to a vote in the full Senate a few days after that, before public outrage scares the pants or dresses off any of his colleagues. There are a few Republican Senators who might vote against the bill once they know what’s in it, but that will only happen if they’re afraid of losing their jobs, which won’t be the case unless voters in their states make a lot of noise. These are the Republican Senators who might be open to influence and weren’t invited to join the Gang of 13:
Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Jeff Flake (Arizona)
Dean Heller (Nevada)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
These three might see reason but they were included in the Gang, so it’s unlikely:
Cory Gardner (Colorado)
Rob Portman (Ohio)
Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania)
I’d include the “maverick” Senator John McCain of Arizona in the first list but he only talks a big game and may be too senile to know what he’s voting for.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I really wanted to write about. Michael Gerson is a member of what would ordinarily be called the “Republican “Establishment. He used to work for the second President Bush and now writes for a living. Yesterday in The Washington Post, he wrote about how Republicans might put an end to Trumpism. First, he reviews the situation:
Trump has been ruled by compulsions, obsessions and vindictiveness, expressed nearly daily on Twitter. He has demonstrated an egotism that borders on solipsism. His political skills as president have been close to nonexistent. His White House is divided, incompetent and chaotic, and key administration jobs remain unfilled. His legislative agenda has gone nowhere. He has told constant, childish, refuted, uncorrected lies, and demanded and habituated deception among his underlings. He has humiliated and undercut his staff while requiring and rewarding flattery. He has promoted self-serving conspiracy theories. He has displayed pathetic, even frightening, ignorance on policy matters foreign and domestic. He has inflicted his ethically challenged associates on the nation. He is dead to the poetry of language and to the nobility of the political enterprise, viewing politics as conquest rather than as service.
Trump has made consistent appeals to prejudice based on religion and ethnicity, and associated the Republican Party with bias. He has stoked tribal hostilities. He has carelessly fractured our national unity. He has attempted to undermine respect for any institution that opposes or limits him — be it the responsible press, the courts or the intelligence community. He has invited criminal investigation through his secrecy and carelessness. He has publicly attempted to intimidate law enforcement. He has systematically alarmed our allies and given comfort to authoritarians. He promised to emancipate the world from American moral leadership — and has kept that pledge.
For many Republicans and conservatives, there is apparently no last straw, with offenses mounting bale by bale. The argument goes: Trump is still superior to Democratic rule — which would deliver apocalyptic harm — and thus anything that hurts Trump is bad for the republic. He is the general, so shut up and salute. What, after all, is the conservative endgame other than Trump’s success?
This is the recommendation of sycophancy based on hysteria. At some point, hope for a new and improved Trump deteriorates into unreason. The idea that an alliance with Trump will end anywhere but disaster is a delusion. Both individuals and parties have long-term interests that are served by integrity, honor and sanity. Both individuals and the Republican Party are being corrupted and stained by their embrace of Trump. The endgame of accommodation is to be morally and politically discredited. Those committed to this approach warn of national decline — and are practically assisting it. They warn of decadence — and provide refreshments at the orgy.
So what is the proper objective for Republicans and conservatives? It is the defeat of Trumpism, preferably without the destruction of the GOP itself. And how does that happen?
That was quite a buildup. So what options does Gerson consider? Only to immediately reject each one of them?
- Create a conservative third party – a “bad idea”
- Challenge DT in the 2020 primary elections – “unlikely”
- If Democrats win the House in 2018, join the effort to impeach him – “theoretical”
- Help elect a Democrat in 2020 – “heretical”
- Wait for 2024 and hope for the best – “complacent”.
Whatever option is chosen, it will not be easy or pretty. And any comfort for Republicans will be cold because they brought this fate on themselves and the country.
That’s not very encouraging. Nevertheless, there are a few options that didn’t make his list:
- Impeach the dangerous ignoramus right now
- Invoke the 25th Amendment and put him in a home
- Admit in public that he’s totally unfit to be President
- Put country over party and resist him every step of the way.
I offer this list on the assumption that Mr. Gerson and other patriotic Republicans lack imagination and simply didn’t think of them.