There’s nothing especially courageous about saying Donald Trump is nuts. He is, objectively, the most narcissistic, unpredictable, and petulant man to ever hold the office of President of the United States. Sure, maybe “nuts” isn’t the right way to frame the man’s clearly evidenced personality deficiencies. But, in layman’s terms, Donald Trump is more than nuts. To paraphrase the Secretary of State, he’s “fucking nuts.”
Democrats have been saying Trump is insane and his followers are deplorable since he descended the golden escalator back in 2015. “Descend the golden escalator” sounds like a euphemism for something slimy, but in this case…well, it’s still slimy, just in a different way.
But lately, even Republicans are starting to divert their attention from counting lobbyist contributions to speak up against the Donald “The Tangerine Tyrant” Trump. That wasn’t his WWE ring name, but it should have been.
For a gaggle of cousin-lusting yokels political party that was so ecstatic to support a guy who “tells it like it is,” the Republicans get PISSED when one of their own does the same.
Nonetheless, a few “brave” Republicans are standing up and saying what’s on their mind.
My instinct is to deride their so-called bravery. Their consciences have been unfettered for years as they’ve voted for legislation that cost people their health and their savings. They haven’t shown concern for their grandchildren when they’ve consistently voted against environmental protection or education funding. They haven’t seemed to care about the future when they’ve tethered us all to never-ending, for-profit wars.
But I’ll suspend disbelief and give them each the charitable assumption.
Maybe a true miracle has happened. These formerly self-serving political operators were planted in the barren D.C. soil, but now, they’re in deep fertilizer. The steady overflow of manure from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been unpleasant for everyone. Well, almost everyone. Some creatures love rolling in filth between committee meetings and fundraisers. I’m looking at you, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders.
All the while, a happy accident occurred. The sludge gave rise to a veritable Fertile Crescent along the Potomac. And from this modern, malodorous, malarial Swamp™, a miracle has sprung forth (besides alliterative use of a thesaurus):
A few Republicans have grown backbones.
Not surprisingly, John McCain was one of the first to go “maverick” on his party.
Senator McCain voted against a healthcare bill that hadn’t been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. He argued for a return to order. In return for these two objectively conservative stances, he has been called everything from a RINO to a traitor by the right-wing echo chamber.
Side note: A Breitbart/Infowars conspiracy nut calling John Effing McCain a “Republican In Name Only” is like a bandwagon Dodgers fan calling Vin Scully a has-been tagalong.
Side note 2: “Effing” is actually John McCain’s legal middle name. I was as shocked as you are when I made that up just now.
John McCain is facing an aggressive form of brain cancer. With mortality facing him, Senator McCain’s inner grizzled elder statesman rose to the occasion.
“Go fuck yourself, you draft-dodging trust fund pussy,” said McCain in the version of events that played in my head as I imagined his speech.
Upon further review, transcripts of the actual speech exist, so we don’t have to rely on my version.
“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
That’s maybe 8-9% more eloquent than my version, tops. I still wish he would have used my version, though. But he didn’t, and that’s probably why he’s an esteemed member of the United States Senate, and I’m an esteemed member of the Dunkin Donuts rewards program.
A few days later, Senator McCain spoke about conscription during Vietnam:
“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur[.]” #burn #micdrop*
*hashtags added, not in the original as spoken by an 81-year-old.
I’ll give McCain a pass for being on the wrong side of plenty of legislation over the years, and grant him this: his “give a fuck” is broken, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
But he’s not the only Republican growing a spine these days.
Take Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Senator Corker made his fortune by as an entrepreneur and real estate developer. His voting record makes it clear he’s a conservative, though he occasionally does non-conservative things, like “compromising” and “being rational.”
Fed up with Herr Twitler, Bob got up his gumption and gave the President the old what-for. Here are a few of his pluckier comments on Dear Leader:
“When his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, and the — just the name calling, the things that I think, the debasement of our nation is what we will be remembered most important, and that’s regretful.”
“I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue.”
“The President has great difficulty with the truth. On many issues.”
“I think that he’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion … I don’t think that that’s possible. He’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”
That’s some serious shade by the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Of course, he’s essentially just stating facts, and he’s retiring after this term. So…shady? Yes. Courageous? Well, it’s not cowardly, and in the land of blind men, the one-eyed man is king. We’ll allow it.
Hey, remember George W. Bush?! He was the owner of the failing Texas Rangers. Sad!
Oh, and he was the President of the United States from 2000-2008. Republican. Part of a powerful Republican family. Very adept at clearing brush.
What did Dubya have to say about the guy inhabiting his former office? Here are a few lines from a speech 43 gave at an event in New York last week:
“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politic seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
“We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization.”
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments[.]”
“This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
Bush didn’t name names, but let’s just say Donald Trump’s ears were burning throughout that speech in given in his own hometown. And remember, there’s a longstanding tradition among former presidents: don’t get involved in the current president’s business, and don’t EVER speak ill of him.
While it’s not exactly “storming the beaches of Normandy,” it took a measure of chutzpah for President Bush to speak his mind. And that’s saying something, because he thinks chutzpah is that tasty sandwich spread he got at the deli that one time.
And then, there’s Senator Jeff Flake.
Jeff Flake walked onto the Senate floor and squeezed a can of spinach with his bare hands until it burst. The spinach flew into the air, and he ate it all in one gulp. His forearms swelled to 5x the size of his biceps, and he pummeled Donald Trump’s face like he was hitting a speed bag. Metaphorically.
To answer your question, no, he couldn’t have eaten the spinach through his pipe, because he’s Mormon. Same reason he didn’t yell “hold my beer!” when strutting out to show the others how it’s done.
“Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.
And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength — because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.
It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say?
Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.”
At the end of that speech, Senator Flake announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of his term.
It would be fair to say that he, by virtue of his pending retirement, is not taking much of a political gamble in lambasting the President. It’s important to note, however, that Senator Flake has fourteen months left in office. So does Bob Corker.
This sounds like I’m being snarky, but it’s entirely possible Flake and Corker will still be senators long after Trump is removed from office. Flakes speech may not have taken much backbone, but it was nonetheless a ballsy challenge to the Executive—especially to an Executive known for “punching back” no matter how small the perceived slight.
And I am certain that others are privately thinking what Senators McCain, Corker, and Flake, and President Bush were bold enough to say publicly.
The manure is being spread all over the National Mall – more manure than has ever been spread by any administration, ever, PERIOD. My assertions will not be questioned! The environment for growing a backbone is the ripest it has ever been.
In a party known for groupthink, what is it going to take for a principled person to risk their own career and stand up to Donald Trump?
If you didn’t want to be the first to speak, you won’t be. John, Bob, George and Jeff already tested the waters. You’re going to get attacked as a RINO. A sell-out. A cuckservative. Your words are going to be discounted as a “personal quarrel.” He’s gonna tweet the ever-loving shit out of you.
And survive that onslaught or not, I can promise you this: you’re going to be remembered on the right side of history for standing up to a tyrant.