Jennifer Rubin writes:
... let’s say for the sake of argument that the [Mueller] report shows: 1.) Trump hired multiple campaign officials who had, collectively, and solicited a hostile foreign power’s help in winning the presidency; 2.) Trump lied repeatedly about his pursuit of a business deal with a hostile foreign power while running for president; and 3.) Trump took a slew of actions (from misleading the public to seeking leniency for Michael Flynn to intimidating witnesses in plain sight) that, if committed by anyone other than the president, would be grounds for indictment. Do the Republicans plan on running in 2020 under the banner: Leave the Russian patsy in power — or What’s a little obstruction between friends?
Seriously, that's the Republican message: There was no collusion, and it's no big deal if there was because Russia hates gays, loves fossil fuels, and despises Europe -- just like us. So we should be Russia's friends.
If so, they will have to defend not simply Trump’s criminal innocence but also his fitness to serve after committing all of the above. They’ll have to explain why none of that rises to the level of “high Crimes and Misdemeanor,” and why the country should allow him to continue as the chief executive charged with enforcement of the nation’s laws and the Constitution. Even in the best-case scenario for Trump, the facts we know about already are damning; in a world without a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists, they would be disqualifying for office.
But the GOP is not "a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists" -- it's "a political party reduced to know-nothing cultists" people with such intense negative partisanship that they'd vote for a Charles Manson/John Wayne Gacy ticket if the ticket promised to lock up Hillary Clinton.
That’s not all. Maybe before the 2020 election we’ll learn the results of the Southern District of New York investigation(s) on allegations of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, defraud banks and cheat on taxes, and other possible crimes. Are Republicans going to back a president who’s found responsible for any or all or those, or, if the investigation is not complete, back a president who, in his second term, could be found to have committed multiple financial crimes?
What’s the defense? Hey, everyone pays off mistresses and files false campaign finance statements!
Yes. The public already thinks all politicians are crooks, and all wealthy men are cheating horndogs. A large subset of the GOP voter base is supposed to care about character and traditional morality, but these people are Trump's most unswerving loyalists, because, to them, character and traditional morality mean hating Muslims and Mexicans and wanting Hillary Clinton locked up.
What gets lost in the discussion of impeachment vs. indictment and the presence or absence of a felony is the reaffirmation that Trump’s conduct — be it lying about his Russian business interests or trying to decapitate investigations — is in no sense acceptable for someone sworn to “take care” that the laws are enforced. He’s a menace to the presidency and to the rule of law and patently unfit to hold presidential powers. The Fox News hosts and their zombie audience will deny this, but what about “respectable" Republicans who like the tax cuts and judges but find most everything else objectionable? I suppose they could descend further into intellectual hackery and support reelection, but you’d think they’d at least consider looking for a nominee without an ocean liner full of baggage.
Nope. Why should they? The zombie Fox News audience would throw a fit if the party tried to jettison Trump, and Trump has an excellent chance of winning next year, especially in a three-way race, which seems inevitable.
Besides, I think Rubin's sense that there's a bright line between Fox-fed "know-nothing cultists" and "respectable" Republicans is erroneous. It's not just Pennsylvania rural diner customers and old retired duffers on Florida's Gulf Coast who think the Russia story is made up and Hillary Clinton was the real colluder -- it's guys in C-suites, who also watch Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, and who are no smarter than the diner-dwellers. It's officers in local Republican parties who avidly read QAnon posts. It's young legislative staffers who text n****r jokes to their friends.
The problem isn't Trump -- it's the Republican Party. The rot is just too deep.
Republished with permission from