What it fi­nally took GOP to feel be­trayed by Trump

Dana Milbank says Repub­li­cans were will­ing to tol­er­ate al­most any­thing — but not mak­ing a deal with Democrats.

Houston Chronicle - - OUTLOOK -

WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­can Rep. Dun­can Hunter, an early and loyal Trump en­thu­si­ast, gave an un­com­monly can­did as­sess­ment of the president to a group of young Repub­li­cans at home in Cal­i­for­nia re­cently.

“He’s an a--hole,” Dun­can said, “but he’s our a--hole.” So re­ported his home­town San Diego Union-Tri­bune.

That’s close to a per­fect sum­mary of Repub­li­cans’ re­la­tion­ship of con­ve­nience with President Don­ald Trump.

Trump gave suc­cor to neo-Nazis, boasted of grop­ing women, at­tacked the in­tegrity of the ju­di­cial sys­tem, fired the FBI di­rec­tor to stymie the Rus­sia probe, boasted about his gen­i­tal size on na­tional tele­vi­sion, at­tacked racial and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties and la­beled women all man­ner of vul­gar­i­ties.

And, through it all, Repub­li­cans stuck with Trump.

But this time, some Repub­li­cans say he went too far. He made a deal with Democrats.

It’s not a big deal, mind you, just a pro­ce­dural agree­ment to post­pone bud­get wran­gling for three months. But be­cause Trump sided with Chuck and Nancy over Mitch and Paul, com­bined with his tweeted at­tacks on the Repub­li­can Se­nate leader and Stephen Ban­non’s threat to back pri­mary chal­lenges to Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, there is sud­denly talk of civil war within the GOP.

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers booed Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin and Bud­get Di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney when they tried to sell Trump’s deal with the Democrats.

“It’s just a be­trayal of ev­ery­thing we’ve been talking about for years as Repub­li­cans,” for­mer se­na­tor Jim DeMint, an in­flu­en­tial con­ser­va­tive, told Politico.

In an ar­ti­cle head­lined “Bound to No Party, Trump Upends 150 Years of Two Party Rule,” Peter Baker of the New York Times quoted con­ser­va­tive writer Ben Domenech: “This week was the first time he struck out and did some­thing com­pletely at odds with what the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship and es­tab­lish­ment would want him to do in this po­si­tion.”

If this is the first time Trump has been com­pletely at odds with what the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship and es­tab­lish­ment want him to do, let’s re­view the var­i­ous things Trump has done as president that must have been con­sis­tent with what they wanted. If his deal with Chuck and Nancy is a “be­trayal of ev­ery­thing,” let’s re­call some of the things that were not such be­tray­als of Repub­li­can­ism:

•Fir­ing James B. Comey in an ef­fort to thwart the FBI’s Rus­sia probe.

•Dic­tat­ing a misleading state­ment ex­plain­ing his son’s cam­paign in­ter­ac­tion with Rus­sians.

•In­vent­ing the false charge that he was wire­tapped by his pre­de­ces­sor.

•Shov­ing aside a Euro­pean prime min­is­ter to make his way to the front of a photo.

•Mock­ing the abil­i­ties of U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to an over­seas au­di­ence.

•Shar­ing sen­si­tive Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence with the Rus­sians.

•Ini­tially fail­ing to af­firm NATO’s col­lec­tive-se­cu­rity guar­an­tee.

•Gra­tu­itously an­tag­o­niz­ing Euro­pean and Asian al­lies.

•Rais­ing the tem­per­a­ture in the North Korea nu­clear stand­off with a threat of “fire and fury.”

•En­cour­ag­ing a block­ade of U.S. ally Qatar.

•At­tack­ing “so-called” fed­eral judges and say­ing they should be blamed for ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

•Declar­ing the me­dia “en­e­mies of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

•Claim­ing he lost the pop­u­lar vote only be­cause mil­lions of peo­ple voted il­le­gally and ap­point­ing an elec­tion fraud com­mis­sion in an at­tempt to prove it.

•Say­ing there were “fine peo­ple” march­ing among neo-Nazis in Char­lottesville.

•Mov­ing to end pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion for hun­dreds of thou­sands of im­mi­grant “dream­ers.”

And that list, of course, doesn’t in­clude the many things Trump did be­fore as­sum­ing of­fice: the “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” video, the “birther” cam­paign, call­ing Mex­i­can im­mi­grants rapists, coun­te­nanc­ing vi­o­lence at his ral­lies and all the rest.

Why do so many Repub­li­cans who tol­er­ated so much now howl about civil war over a deal with Democrats? I’m skep­ti­cal this will turn out to be a real break, but to the ex­tent it does, it’s not about prin­ci­ple but par­ti­san trib­al­ism. Repub­li­cans can stom­ach just about any­thing as long as Trump re­mains a mem­ber in good stand­ing of the tribe. But if he fa­vors en­emy tribes­men over his own, that’s taboo.

Head­ing into the 2018 midterms, Repub­li­cans in­creas­ingly have an in­cen­tive to make peo­ple think they’re dif­fer­ent from the un­pop­u­lar Trump and that he’s in­de­pen­dent of the two-party sys­tem. But if Repub­li­cans dis­own Trump now, they still own all the pre­vi­ous Trump ac­tions over which they failed to break with him in any mean­ing­ful way.

He’s their you-know-what.

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