Trump’s Enablers Congressional Republicans don’t even pretend to stand up to the president anymore.
After John Mccain’s death, as official Washington set its flags at half-staff, Chuck Schumer proposed another kind of tribute to the iconic senator and war hero: that the Russell Senate Office Building, currently named for a segregationist southern Democrat, be renamed for McCain. His Republican colleagues, however, demurred.
They could not admit that their real reason for opposing the honor was that McCain had crossed Trump. Nor could they defend Senator Richard Russell’s ardent white supremacy, which extended to denouncing laws to ban lynching. Instead, they flailed about, inventing pretexts on the fly. Russell “did so many other things,” Georgia Republican David Perdue rhapsodized. “He was a big supporter of the Great Society, the War on Poverty. Now, we all know those things failed, but he was a big champion of them.” So here was Perdue arguing that Russell deserved to be honored for his role in crafting what Perdue’s party regards as a historic debacle. Even Lindsey Graham proclaimed that the best way to honor his best friend would somehow be to not name a Senate building after him: “Instead of worrying about what to name for him … let’s be more like him.”
What was at stake in this absurd stance was something large: Donald Trump was once again demanding a display of submission from his party. And once again, he received it. As in a Stalinist show trial, the preposterousness of the statements made them more rather than less valuable. Senate Republicans demonstrated their willingness to turn on a colleague out of fealty to Trump, and all the better for him that they did so out of transparent fear rather than conviction.
The GOP elites’ icy disposition toward Trump has slowly melted in stages over his first year and a half in office. In the past few weeks, the process has accelerated. Whatever restraining force Trump’s party exerted against him has now almost completely dissipated.
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