I have this image of Donald Trump driving a careening bus filled with Republicans aimed at an abyss with some of the passengers – say like Speaker Paul Ryan – struggling with him to turn the wheel and others just jumping off to save themselves. And perhaps the party.
The worst of Trump has been on display over the last dozen days or so, too much to really talk about in this post. But enough to bolster what would have been a post convention bump in the polls for Hillary into a jump now of anywhere from eight to 15 points nationally.
In months to come, looking back, Trump’s defamation of Mr. and Mrs. Khan for comments the former made and the latter did not make about Trump at the Democratic convention, may be viewed as being his bridge too far (finally?). Senator John McCain lambasted Trump for his comments, which underscores the awkward perch McCain occupies and the fractured nature of the Grand Old Party.
McCain “endorsed” Trump some time ago, as have other generally respected Republicans, such as Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Kelly Ayotte. Now all three are stuck on the bus because Trump is the party nominee, and their dilemma is wanting to hold the party together while backing a man they obviously all dislike. Maybe even consider unfit to be president.
Also, in the case of the two Senators up for reelection, to keep the Trump supporters from trashing their campaigns. Ryan, on the other hand, as Speaker, feels it is his job to hold the party together as best he can to keep the House. (Yes, he is also running but he is a shoe in.)
While those three “endorsed” Trump, they did not do it unconditionally and in decidedly underwhelming ways. So no surprise that the Donald, not to be outdone when it comes to pay back for perceived slights, had withheld endorsing them in return. Given all that has gone wrong for Trump of late, someone must have persuaded him to feign a step towards party unity, so he finally “endorsed” those three, but in such a limp manner, needing to read the exact words off a piece of paper to get the statement right.
He showed them.
That’s Donald Trump the party unifier.
Meanwhile a large contingent of former Republican security officials have just jumped off the bus, putting out an open letter warning “Mr. Trump would be the most reckless president in American history.”
As described in the New York Times: “Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W. Bush, have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
Oh….. and Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of the few in Congress who can work across the aisle, has just jumped off the bus announcing in the Washington Post yesterday that despite being torn by her loyalty to the Republican Party she cannot support Donald Trump. Ms. Collins, like so many Republicans, have hoped for months that once nominated, Trump would pivot to concentrating on the issues and, how to put it, show some common decency, but finally she has given up.
There “will be no ‘new’ Donald Trump, just the same candidate who will slash and burn and trample anything and anyone he perceives as being in his way or an easy scapegoat. Regrettably, his essential character appears to be fixed, and he seems incapable of change or growth.”
I could not have said it any better.