GOP Litmus Test: either you disown Donald Trump, or you own him

The next Republican debate is Tuesday, December 15, from Las Vegas Nevada, on TeaNN (formerly CNN) moderated by the perpetually terrified Wolf Blitzer. This does not bode well.

Sandy Levinson writes at Balkinization blog, :

Screenshot-16The only relevant question at the next Republican debate is ‘Would you really be willing to campaign and vote for Donald Trump to be President of the United States if he received the Republican nomination?”

Anyone who answers “yes” is a scoundrel who should be disqualified from further consideration.

E.J. Montini has a  commentary on a Republic report about the response from Arizona’s congressional delegation to Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry:

As reported by The Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Dan Nowicki, Sen. Jeff Flake reacted to Trump’s remark via Twitter, tweeting: “Just when you think @realDonaldTrump can stoop no lower, he does. These views do not reflect serious thought.”

You figure that hurt Trump’s feelings?

Come on.

Then there’s Sen. John McCain, who said of Trump’s declaration about Muslims, “It’s just foolishness. It’s been a long series of statements like this that have been just foolish.”

Foolish. Absolutely correct. And, yes, there really have been a long series of them.

So why did McCain say he would support Trump if he won the Republican nomination?

McCainGrimaceOr as McCain put a few days ago it, “I obviously disagree with Mr. Trump on certain issues, but I think that fight can be had within the Republican Party. I’ve had a strong disagreement and I have made those disagreements well-known. I have disagreements with Senator [Ted] Cruz [of Texas] – I don’t believe we should shut down the government again. I have disagreements with some of the other candidates as well. … We’ll have to see what happens but I will support the nominee of the Republican Party.”

Really? You’d support this guy if he was the nominee? Or is McCain a little worried about getting through a primary election against a Trump-like opponent and is choosing to hedge his bets?

[John McCain is an amoral and unprincipled politician whose intelligence, judgment and character have always been in question. Two words: Sarah Palin. McCain’s statement that he would support Donald Trump if he is the GOP nominee disqualifies him from further consideration for office.]

This wait-and-see attitude by Republicans is as bad, or maybe worse, than Trump’s obscene bluster. At least Trump has the guts to speak his offensively wacky mind.

It’s time his fellow Republicans joined him.

It’s time to fish or cut bait for Sen. McCain. And Sen Flake. And our suddenly silent congressmen.

Either disown this guy. Or own him.

Actually, the Arizona political media have an obligation to get every elected Republican office holder or candidate for office on the record with their response to Sandy Levinson’s litmus test question: “Would you really be willing to campaign and vote for Donald Trump to be President of the United States if he received the Republican nomination?”

By the way, The Arizona Republic editorial board, which has always endorsed the Republican nominee for president and will do so again in 2016, has an obligation to declare its opposition to Donald Trump. “Either disown this guy. Or own him.”

The editorial board of The Washington Post editorialized on Tuesday, It’s time for Republicans to renounce Donald Trump’s candidacy:

MOST CANDIDATES for the Republican presidential nomination, with an understanding of constitutional, democratic and social norms that Donald J. Trump utterly lacks, have denounced his outrageous call for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States.

It is heartening that Mr. Trump’s opponents are finally condemning him in terms they would generally reserve for Democrats, but it also raises a critical question: If the GOP front-runner’s pronouncements are as lunatic and offensive as his rivals say — and they are — isn’t it incumbent on them to make clear they would oppose him if he were the party’s nominee?

The prospect of an open Republican split may send tremors down the spines of party strategists. They naturally fear an internecine war, a fractured party and maybe an independent Trump candidacy. But even those outcomes would cause less damage to their party and to the nation than uniting behind a candidate whose policies and rhetoric are morally, legally and pragmatically unconscionable — as they have now recognized.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Mr. Trump’s “habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring us together.” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blasted Mr. Trump’s call for excluding Muslims as “ridiculous.” Former Florida governor Jeb Bush called the idea “unhinged.” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) said Mr. Trump’s proposal “is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

How can any of these men now contemplate endorsing the object of their obloquy?

Until now, party leaders and primary rivals have mostly dodged this question by dismissing Mr. Trump’s chances of winning the nomination. That’s no longer viable. Having stood atop the field in the polls for months, and lately having widened his considerable lead, Mr. Trump and his candidacy can no longer be laughed off as a publicity stunt. For responsible Republicans, the season of denial must end.

The plain truth is that a Trump presidency would not only fracture American society along ethnic, racial and, we now know, religious lines. It would also demolish American prestige on the world stage and alienate our most important allies. Think that’s an exaggeration? Then check with David Cameron, the Conservative British prime minister, who called Mr. Trump’s anti-Muslim hate-mongering “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong.”

As it happens, on Monday, the same day Mr. Trump issued his latest incendiary call, authorities in Philadelphia began investigating an incident in which a severed pig’s head was tossed on a mosque’s doorstep, disrupting early-morning prayers. There has been a spike in similar incidents in recent weeks. This one, in the City of Brotherly Love, is a precursor of what would be an open season of such sectarian hate crimes in Mr. Trump’s America, were he elected president.

As Mr. Trump’s fellow Republican candidates now acknowledge, there is a real-world cost to a campaign that gains traction by spewing hatred, bigotry and rage. Criticizing Mr. Trump is no longer sufficient. It is time to say clearly he is anathema to the Republican Party, and to the nation.

Silence is acquiescence and consent. It only green-lights Trump and his Mass Deportation Party supporters to engage in even more outrageous and extreme behavior.

Donald Trump has risen to a new high among Republican primary voters, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. New York Times/CBS Poll:

Mr. Trump now has the support of 35 percent of Republican primary voters, a substantial increase from late October, when he was the choice of 22 percent of Republicans and was edged out by Ben Carson.

Mr. Carson, who has struggled with foreign policy questions since the Paris attacks last month, has fallen as much as Mr. Trump has gained since October and is now winning 13 percent of Republican primary voters. Mr. Cruz has increased his share of the vote to 16 percent from 4 percent in October. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida takes 9 percent, and the rest of the Republican contenders are below 5 percent each.

Paul Waldman points out at the Washington Post, Let’s get real. Most Republicans would be fine with President Trump.

The question of the day is whether Republicans, particularly the Republicans running for president, would support Donald Trump if he were to become the party’s nominee. Much as they might hem and haw when they get asked — many insist that it’s a moot point since he won’t be the nominee — the real answer is simple: Of course they would.

* * *

[As Trump’s] statements grow more repellent and his opponents slowly become more willing to criticize him (very slowly in some cases), “Will you support Donald Trump if he is the GOP nominee?” is the question every Republican is getting.

It’s a natural question to ask. If you’re saying on one hand that he’s “entirely unsuited to lead the United States” (John Kasich), or that his plan to ban Muslims from coming to the country “is not what this party stands for. And, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for” (Paul Ryan), or that he’s “unhinged” (Jeb Bush), or that he’s “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” (Lindsey Graham), then it’s awfully hard to say on the other hand that if he’s your party’s nominee for president, you’ll be right at his side.

Yet that’s exactly what Republicans are saying, even if not in so many words. I have yet to see a single prominent Republican say that they won’t support Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee.

* * *

And then there’s this: the alternative, if Trump is the nominee, is probably Hillary Clinton, with the possible exception of Barack Obama the single political figure Republicans most despise. So to reject Trump, they’d have to argue that everything Clinton would do from a policy perspective, and just by making them mad all the time, is preferable to a Trump presidency.

To be clear, I’m not saying this to excuse the tacit support nearly every Republican is giving Trump, nor the future support they’ll give him if he’s the nominee. Trump may be the most despicable politician we’ve seen in America in decades, someone who is explicitly encouraging Americans to nurture and act upon their darkest feelings of fear and hatred. Everyone who stands behind him ought to be tainted by that association for the rest of their careers.

But especially in this age of negative partisanship, where people increasingly define their political identities not by whom they support but by which party and politicians they hate, it would be shocking if Republicans could contemplate not supporting the GOP’s nominee when Clinton is the likely alternative. And the awful things he has said are just exaggerated versions of what have become mainstream Republican positions — they rail against undocumented immigrants, and he wants to deport them; they stoke fear of Muslim refugees, and he expands that to all Muslims, and so on. If he were moving in the other direction it might be a different story, but as it is Trump is only taking conservative ideas and moving them a few steps farther to the right.

There’s some threshold of villainy Trump could cross where his fellow Republicans would say that they couldn’t support him under any circumstances. But wherever that threshold is, he hasn’t reached it yet.

Comments are closed.