The GOP sur­ren­ders to the dark side

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— With the sur­ren­der of House Speaker Paul Ryan to the Trump cru­sade, it is fair to won­der what the Repub­li­can Party stands for.

Ryan’s en­dorse­ment of Trump, which ap­peared in an op-ed the speaker wrote for his home­town pa­per — rather than be­fore a gag­gle of re­porters and news­cast­ers with his arm draped around Trump’s shoul­ders — was a white flag from the es­tab­lish­ment op­po­si­tion.

In his op-ed, Ryan ex­plained that though he doesn’t sup­port all of Trump’s ideas (brave!), he’s con­fi­dent that a Pres­i­dent Trump would sup­port the House agenda. More­over, Ryan felt that his en­dorse­ment was needed to main­tain a Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity in the House.

In other words, he caved, as most ev­ery­one knew he would af­ter a re­spectable pe­riod of re­sis­tance.

The party has to stand united, af­ter all. Be­cause, as the Ge­ico guy would re­mind us, that’s what they do.

Next likely to fall will be evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian lead­ers, who are sched­uled to meet with Trump on June 21. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that Trump will prom­ise to pick con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court jus­tices who would re­store the na­tion’s so­cial or­der to a pre-Roe v. Wade, pre-gay-rights ver­sion.

If the pur­port­edly de­vout can ac­cept the un­godly Trump as the na­tion’s leader, then there re­ally is noth­ing sa­cred. But, by God, he’s bet­ter than Hil­lary Clin­ton, clam­ors the crowd.

To Trump’s sup­port­ers, a bil­lion­aire with no gov­ern­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, ques­tion­able busi­ness prac­tices and se­cret tax re­turns would be vastly bet­ter than she on no sub­stan­tive ba­sis what­so­ever. Most com­pelling of all is the be­lief that Trump would nom­i­nate con­ser­va­tive jus­tices.

But this as­sump­tion is as con­jec­tural as the be­lief in Trump’s con­ser­vatism is wish­ful.

There’s no know­ing whom Trump would nom­i­nate, not­with­stand­ing the list of 11 judges he re­leased last month, in­di­cat­ing the sorts of ju­rists he’d se­lect. The list was merely a “guide” Trump said he would use in mak­ing his selections.

In other words, what you see may not be what you get.

This ap­plies as well to Trump, about whose poli­cies we still know next to noth­ing. What we do know is that Trump is a chameleon who changes his po­si­tions with the same con­vic­tion he takes to the wed­ding chapel. More hum­ming­bird than flip-flop­per, he flits from one po­si­tion to another, rarely alight­ing any­where for long. Oh, yes, I like this one! No, that one.

Is Trump’s flex­i­bil­ity ow­ing to a low thresh­old for bore­dom? Or does he per­haps suf­fer se­vere at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der? Suf­fice it to say, if he were a Demo­crat, Repub­li­cans would be blitz­ing the air­waves with car­toon­ish ads fea­tur­ing Trump’s head on a hum­ming­bird, his nec­tar-straw Pinoc­chioesque. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are de­li­cious.

This is not to min­i­mize his ap­peal or to den­i­grate his fans, some of whom prob­a­bly fig­ure that un­der­neath all the blus­ter is a solid chap who will hire the best peo­ple to fig­ure things out. Oth­ers don’t much care for pol­icy-talk, any­way, and what­ever’s good enough for Trump is good enough for them.

Mil­lions of oth­ers, con­trar­ily, can’t ig­nore Trump’s ten­dency to be crude, rude and im­petu­ous, not to men­tion disin­gen­u­ous, con­tentious, sim­plis­tic — “I hate (nu­clear) pro­lif­er­a­tion!” — and ir­re­spon­si­bly ig­no­rant. And yet party lead­ers against their bet­ter in­stincts have cir­cled the wag­ons around a movie char­ac­ter, not Chauncey Gar­diner in “Be­ing There,” as I once sug­gested, but Tom Hanks’ char­ac­ter in “Big.”

As you’ll re­call, Hanks acts the part of a boy, who, hav­ing been granted his wish to be all grown up, sud­denly in­hab­its the body of an adult. But still a child, he be­haves as one. For­tu­nately, the worst thing Hanks’ char­ac­ter does is to be­have so adorably that a grown woman falls for him.

Now imag­ine that the boy hadn’t been a sweet child but was a spoiled brat and a bully. What sort of child-in­hab­ited man might Hanks have been then? Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s tantrum-throw­ing nuke-slinger comes to mind.

So does Trump, not that I’m com­par­ing the two, but you get the gist. Of all the care­fully ex­am­ined flaws in Trump’s per­sona, the most con­cern­ing and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous is his im­ma­tu­rity.

Like a child used to get­ting his way, he shouts, pokes, bul­lies, be­rates, pouts and pa­rades. And thanks to him, the GOP’s big tent has be­come a tough-kid’s idea of a party — peo­pled with hot dames, swindlers, gam­blers, bosses, bounc­ers and thugs — and some, I as­sume, are good peo­ple.

At least now, Ron­ald Rea­gan can fi­nally get some rest. The Repub­li­can Party has left him.

Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact her at kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.

WASH­ING­TON

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