Where we are, May 2017

Another month, another article about dumbfounded, demoralized Republicans:

We haven’t had a single conversation with a top Republican that doesn’t reflect this. The worries are manifold:

* This kills momentum on legislating, and unifies Democrats in opposition to everything they want to do.

* This makes it easier for Democrats to recruit quality candidates and raise money for the off-year elections.

* It sours swing voters.

* It puts them on the defensive at home. They want to talk tax reform and deregulation — not secret tapes and Russian intrigue.

* But mainly it reinforces their greatest fear: Trump will never change. They keep praying he’ll discipline himself enough to get some big things done. Yet they brace for more of this

Let’s examine the adjective “dumbfounded.” In its literal sense, it means a person has found dumbness. When examining Republicans elected to office since January 1981, “finding dumbness” is a malapropism. Their condition is “dumbareness,” and they don’t stay dumb about it either — talk talk talk, that’s what they do.

I’ve said little in my corner of the world about the Russia-Trump campaign leaks because I won’t belabor the obvious. So far as I know, Trump was not Laurence Harvey to Vladimir Putin’s Angela Lansbury, but his campaign employed a number of men who profited from a fiduciary relationship with Russia or advised Russia. Some of these men followed Trump to the White House. Trump’s children continue to benefit from deals made when their father was a private citizen. Charles Pierce:

The president* needed money. The Russians oligarchs needed a laundromat. There is an obvious common interest here. That the Russians could gain more leverage over him than he had over them in this arrangement should be obvious. I think that he will always value his dreams of financial empire more than the national interest, and that he would do anything to keep those dreams alive, even demolish the institutions of free government along the way.

Sounds about right. The grisliest, most obtuse, and dumb-are-est conservatives function like majordomos in an Oceania hotel, not a bad job considering the fact that more than eighty percent of Trump voters still approve his performance. Watching FOX News (I know) mid week, I was taken back to the late Bush years after the Democrats had taken the House and Senate: Bush, vaporized as a politician and public figure after Katrina, idled in the White House until a Democrat could shove him out too (he knew it too), therefore the likes of Tucker Carlson and Bill Kristol switched from defenses of their vanquished president to anti-anti Bushers. Charles Sykes sees a similar phenomenon at work: “Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements,” Sykes wrote in a Sunday op-ed, “because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.” From the enthusiastic gargling of Rush Limbaugh this week, these activists are proud of it.

Remember, readers: let’s stop worrying about those theoretical Republican moderates. They’re not going to renounce Trump. Not now, not ever. Remember the Access Hollywood tape. After all, they can’t renounce him: Trump is merely the most repulsive specimen of conservative flimflammery since Ronald Reagan remembered that he forgot about funding the Contras and shipping missiles to Iran. From Susan Collins to Kristol, they believe in returning to an America before the Fourteenth Amendment, where the poor are seen only as domestics or examples of sloth.

(h/t Ned Raggett)

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