Mitt Romney would have signed the executive order “reconsidering” the Keystone XL pipeline. Jeb Bush would have returned to the Reagan-era ban on federal funding for international organizations that perform abortions. Ted Cruz would have nominated William Pryor and the son of disgraced Reagan EPA chief Anne Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Whatever else, the Republican Party has functioned as an ideological coalition of formidable strength and consistency from the direct mail days of Richard Viguerie to the modern Grover Norquist era. As more embarrassing evidence of Donald J. Trump’s insanity emerged last fall, Hillary Clinton pegged him as an aberration, a travesty, a betrayal of a noble GOP tradition that hasn’t existed since 1976 if not 1956. The candidate who with admirable clarity in early 1998 denounced the vast right wing conspiracy determined to drive her husband the president from office and jail him if necessary misunderstood the possible outcome or renounced her own principles, which, it would not surprise me to learn in a sturdy tome ten years hence, I am prepared to accept. If I’m feeling charitable, I’ll blame the tactic on wanting a harmonious relationship between Speaker Paul Ryan and an incoming Clinton administration.
Well, balls. Last night, fourteen Democratic senators voted to approve the nomination of Mike Pompeo to head the CIA, a man for whom torture is as delicious as fresh milk to a cat. Yesterday afternoon, after a Hamlet routine that would fool no one with a hairbrush singing Julio Iglesias before a bathroom mirror, the junior senator from Florida, the Plankton with a Hairpiece, voted to confirm Rex Tillerson; when the Senate declassified its torture report in 2014, Marco Rubio wanted more torture in the same way a man at a $21.99 buffet wants more prime rib. Minutes ago, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, who voted to confirm Pompeo, admitted under questioning from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, that he expects wide GOP opposition to Tom Price as EPA head. Hayes’ eyebrows collided with his hair. For almost as long as I’ve been breathing, Democrats act as if they expect their GOP colleagues to act in a similar spirit of magnanimity. Their reward? Midterm campaign ads accusing them of cowardice and the Senate majority leader refusing to give the last Democratic president’s Supreme Court nominee a fair hearing.
Fuck Joe Scarborough and his cable news brethren for pushing the myth that “daylight” — superb metaphor, inapposite to what the latest gag orders demand — exists between Trump and the GOP. Trump is the GOP. The men and women who voted for him last November may have shivered with disgust, but unlike Democrats and their candidate they checked his name on the ballot anyway. They were going to get most of what they wanted. That’s how politics works. If Democrats are going to survive the next two years, they need to stop separating Trump from the GOP. They have to say “the Republicans want to turn Medicaid into a block grant.” They have to say “the Republicans want to turn Kansas into La Brea.” Hang the accusations around Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Kevin McCarthy’s necks until it burns.