Drumpf and the GOP firing squad


 [EDITOR'S NOTE: In keeping with John Oliver's recent suggestion on his Last Week Tonight program that we all #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain — Drumpf was the original Trump family name — we’re going along. If Dan Savage can singlehandedly create a “Google problem” for Rick Santorum, the least we can do is try and help take a xenophobic racist “billionaire” down a few pegs.]

It’s a shame the early 20th-century humorist Will Rogers isn’t alive to edit one of his most famous remarks.

“I don’t belong to any organized political party,” Rogers once quipped. “I’m a Democrat.”

If Rogers were with us today, he’d likely be aiming that jab at Republicans, who are dealing with the possibility that Donald Drumpf might be their presidential candidate this fall with the sort of discipline and organization one normally sees from hyperactive toddlers who have been denied sleep and fed massive amounts of caffeine and sugar. They’d have to calm down quite a bit just to return to panic status.

It’s always interesting to see how people react to stressful situations.

Denial is one common response.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is an example of that approach. McConnell has been attempting to reassure his fellow Republican senators who are up for re-election this fall and worry that Drumpf’s presence at the top of the ticket will cost them votes – and perhaps their seats.

McConnell tells his colleagues not to fret, because they can distance themselves from Drumpf. They can drop Drumpf “like a hot rock,” McConnell says.


And how does McConnell think the message that Republicans can’t govern their own party but they are ready to govern the country is going to play with voters? Doesn’t that approach also run the risk of telling the people who might vote for Drumpf that the Republican Senate candidates don’t care about them and don’t want their votes?

Then there’s U.S. Sen. and GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who in recent days has decided the best way to deal with Drumpf is to sink to the billionaire’s level.

Starting with last Thursday’s debate, Rubio has attacked The Donald by delivering insults that range from sophomoric to snarling. Rubio has pounded Drumpf for hiring undocumented workers, for defrauding the public with Drumpf University and other ventures and, in a move that’s sure to soothe the tender sensibilities of old-money Republicans, for being a trust-fund baby.

Rubio’s most telling shot – the refrain to which he keeps returning – is Drumpf is “a con man” who is out to take over the conservative movement by deluding and betraying working people.

That may be true, but Rubio’s line of attack also illustrates the problem Republicans have in dealing with Drumpf.

If The Donald is nothing but a huckster, doesn’t that mean the people who vote for him are rubes too stupid to see through his con?

How do Rubio and other Republicans plan to bring those Drumpf voters back into the fold after telling them, over and over again, that they are simple-minded morons for falling for the bombastic billionaire’s shtick?

Or has insulting people now become a new way to persuade them?

But that’s the thing about panic.

When people are this scared, they can’t think about anything but the danger that’s right in front of them. If they’re terrified of the oncoming semi-truck barreling straight at them, they’ll steer themselves right over the cliff with the 2,000-foot drop to their right.

That’s where the GOP is right now.

The truth is that Republicans can’t wound Drumpf without wounding themselves. And, if they try to destroy him, they risk destroying themselves.

The even greater truth is that he’s a monster they made themselves.

A large part of Drumpf’s appeal is that he says full-throated and in plain speech – immigrants are evil, anyone who disagrees with you is either weak, dumb or a traitor, etc. – that many rightwing Republicans have said in whispers and in code for decades.

That’s why the McConnells, the Rubios and even the Karl Roves (who apparently is trying to shop various “stop Drumpf” strategies to conservative funders) have been so flummoxed. They can’t attack Drumpf without attacking themselves.

Once again, Will Rogers could offer appropriate commentary.

Long ago, he made a quip about the way Democrats form a firing squad.

He said they arrange themselves in a circle and then shoot back toward the center.

It appears Republicans have taken that not as a joke, but as a campaign strategy.


Recommended for you