Members of Congress and other GOP leaders have been trying on for size more positions than the Kama Sutra describes. They can’t get comfortable in any of them.
For months Republicans had been in deep denial. Trump would not, could not be their party’s presidential candidate. Impossible. Unthinkable. Disastrous.
With only a couple of exceptions, Trump’s myriad opponents in the fight for the nomination said the Donald’s views on immigration, Mexicans, Muslims and multiple other issues were contrary to the thinking of the Republican Party and disqualified him from becoming president.
How do they now walk back all of that when it is certain that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate in November?
You don’t. You can’t. Republicans are caught between a rock as big as Everest and a place as hard as a diamond. Houdini himself would not have been able to break out of this trap.
That is why Republicans, like a drowning person overcome by panic, have been reduced to thrashing about in every direction, wildly and self-destructively. Panic exhausts, causing more panic. It’s a death spiral that ends in the abyss.
You only have to look at our own backyard here in Miami to see the stark differences in the GOP reaction to the triumphal Trump blitzkrieg that crushed a string of candidates representing the best and the worst, the brightest and the dumbest, the most moderate and the most reactionary factions in the Republican Party.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the pioneer among Cuban Americans in Congress, says she won’t vote for Donald Trump. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, the latest luminary in a long and invariably reactionary line of politicos stretching back to 1930s Cuba, says he will support the party’s nominee.
The fault lines that have developed in the Republican Party are deep and momentous. Former Presidents H.W. Bush and George W. Bush say they will not endorse Trump. Neither will South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who represents a state which is as red (in the topsy-turvy idiom of American politics in which red equals not revolutionary but Republican) as you can get.
Some establishment Republicans, like former party chairman Haley Barbour, seem to be trying to frame the race as one between a candidate with the most unfavorable ratings ever going into a presidential contest (Trump) and a candidate with the second worst ratings (Clinton). Hey, in this scenario anything can happen.
This narrative and all the blather in the media and among the pundits about Trump’s astronomically high “negatives” and Hillary’s very high negatives ignore two crucial dimensions: intensity and Sanders.
Let me elaborate. I have an unfavorable view of Fulgencio Batista. I also have an unfavorable view of Adolf Hitler. While my unfavorable view of Batista is strong, my aversion regarding Adolf Hitler is off the charts, not even in the same universe, infinitely more intense. Similarly, many people who may be no fans of Hillary Clinton are outraged, scared, revolted, and alarmed at the prospect of Trump in the White House. All negatives are not created equal. Some are tepid, others burn white hot.
The second dimension is the Sanders factor. An unknown but substantial number of people who have an unfavorable view of Clinton are Sanders supporters. In fact, part of their enthusiasm for Bernie is that he is decidedly not part of that long-dominant wing of the Democratic Party that decided two decades ago that the only way to win is by becoming Republican lite.
Bill Clinton is a charter member and the most important product of that opportunistic move. Hillary Clinton, with her Wall Street connections and hawkish foreign policy views, had been no different until the Sanders challenge forced her to opportunistically reconnect with her allegedly progressive side.
I will take myself as an example. I have a favorable view of Sanders and voted for him in the primary. I have a mostly unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton, although it is for entirely different reasons than those in the barrage of conservative attacks and smears against her. So in November, I will be holding my nose with both hands and voting for Hillary Clinton. Or maybe with a single hand. I like Hillary as a person and her position on a lot of issues such keeping Obamacare is OK.
And it is important to me that Hillary is a woman. It is past time we finally elected a female in this country, and she is eminently qualified. It would be wonderful if the Democrats, after electing the first African American to the White House, followed that by putting a woman in the Oval office.
I can’t say any of that for Donald Trump. I dislike him at every level: personal, political, ideological, psychological. Personally he is bombastic, offensive, arrogant, abusive, obnoxious. During his campaign he has shown a million times how dirty he plays politics. There isn’t a depth so low he wouldn’t sink—or dive—into.
Ideologically, he is the “ugly American” multiplied by the square of the speed of light. Racist, xenophobic, sexist, eager to bully every other country.
Psychologically, he borders on the delusional. He wants, for example, to build a wall on the Mexican border and force the Mexican government to pay for it. The day a Mexican president accedes to such a demand it will snow in Cancún and Mexico will explode in a second revolution. In general, he seems to think that bullying and demeaning, say Vladimir Putin, is like doing the same thing to Carly Fiorina. No.
Besides delusions like that, Trump exhibits a pronounced narcissism. The women, the hair, the bragging about his wealth, the preening and posturing is also about that. The United States more than any other nation needs a leader who keeps his eye on the world and not on his own reflection.
I suspect a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters think along the same lines and will be doing the same thing I will be doing on election day.
The larger point? Many of those Clinton negatives are soft while Trump’s negatives are set in stone. Hillary’s negatives will melt away for voters like me and many others (Sanders people, women) when faced with only one other choice. They will visualize Donald Trump holding the same high office once held by the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, and say no.