I have offered my Democratic-oriented commentary about Donald Trump several times this presidential cycle and undoubtedly will do so a few more time before November 8. So it’s time to include something on the blog about how some Republicans view him.
Locally, of course, we have seen Congressman Chris Collins’ endorsement of Trump. More on that below. Here are the comments of some national Republicans:
Mitt Romney, businessman, former Republican governor and 2012 Republican candidate for President
Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press.
This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.
Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.
His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill. New York Times, March 3, 2016
Charles Krauthammer, conservative commentator, Washington Post and Fox News
The reigning idiocy of the current political season is the incessant tossing around of “establishment,” an epithet now descending into meaninglessness.
The threat to the GOP posed by the Trump insurgency is not that he’s anti-establishment. It’s that he’s not conservative. Trump winning the nomination would convulse the Republican Party, fracture the conservative movement and undermine the GOP’s identity and role as the country’s conservative party.
There’s nothing wrong with challenging the so-called establishment. Parties, like other institutions, can grow fat and soft and corrupt. If by establishment you mean the careerists, the lobbyists and the sold-out cynics, a good poke, even a major purge, is well-deserved.
That’s not the problem with Trump. The problem is his, shall we say, eclectic populism. Cruz may be anti-establishment but he’s a principled conservative, while Trump has no coherent political philosophy, no core beliefs, at all. Trump offers barstool eruptions and whatever contradictory “idea” pops into his head at the time, such as “humane” mass deportation, followed by mass amnesty when the immigrants are returned to the United States.
That’s the reason his harebrained ideas — barring all Muslims from entering the country, a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods, government-provided universal health care through “a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people” (why didn’t I think of that?) — have received such relatively little scrutiny. No one takes them seriously. His actual platform is all persona — the wonders that will emanate from his own self-proclaimed strength, toughness, brilliance, money, his very yugeness.
Trump’s is faith-based politics of the Latin American caudillo variety. “At the [Sarah] Palin rally,” reports John McCormack of the Weekly Standard, “Trump promised he would localize education. ‘How?’ shouted one man in the crowd. ‘Just you watch,’ Trump replied.” Meaning: I have no idea. Just trust me. Washington Post, February 4, 2016
Marco Rubio, Republican Senator and 2016 presidential candidate
Leadership is not about going to an angry and frustrated people and saying you should be even angrier and more frustrated, and you should be angry and frustrated at each other. That’s called demagoguery. And it’s dangerous. [It leads to] where we are today, a nation where people literally hate each other because they’re voting for different candidates. . . . And it leaves us incapable of solving problems…
My whole life I’ve been told being humble is a virtue, and now being humble is a weakness and being vain and self-absorbed is somehow a virtue. My whole life I’ve been told no matter how you feel about someone, you respect everyone because we are all children of the same God — and now being respectful to one another is considered political correctness.
… presidents can’t say whatever they want to say. We’re not a Third World country. We’re the United States of America. Washington Post, March 16, 2016
Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and columnist for the Wall Street Journal
I think we are seeing a great political party shatter before our eyes. … What is happening now is bigger and less remediable in part because the battles in the past [Goldwater in 1964; Reagan vs. Ford in 1976] were over conservatism, an actual political philosophy. … We are witnessing history. Something important is ending. It is hard to believe what replaces it will be better.
No one knows where this goes. The top of the party and the bottom of the party have split. They disagree on essentials. …
[Trump] is seen as unpredictable, which his supporters see as an advantage. But in a harrowing, hair-trigger world it matters that the leaders of other nations be able to calculate with some reasonable certainty what another leader would do under a given set of circumstances. Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2016
Jennifer Rubin, conservative columnist, Right Turn, Washington Post
Trump — in encouraging violence against protesters; threatening the media (aside from taking no action against his campaign manager despite replete evidence he assaulted a reporter, Trump threatens to “open up” libel laws, whatever that means, to prevent publication of unfavorable coverage) and proposing a mass roundup and deportation of illegal immigrants requiring family separation, he shows contempt for the rule of law, basic human dignity and civil liberties. In short, Trump not only would buddy up to Putin, but he also seems inclined to imitate him and other totalitarian thugs. Washington Post, March 17, 2016
Michael Gerson, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush and Washington Post columnist
For Republicans, accommodation with Trump is not just a choice; it is a verdict. None will come away unstained. For evangelical Christians, it is the stain of hypocrisy — making their movement synonymous with exclusion and gullibility. For GOP job seekers, it is the stain of opportunism. (Consider the sad decline into sycophancy of Chris Christie.) For conservatives, it is the stain of betrayal — the equivalent of supporting George Wallace in 1968 as an authentic populist voice.
All this leaves completely horrible options: sitting the election out, supporting a third-party candidate, contemplating a difficult vote for Clinton. But these are the only honorable options. As one Republican friend wrote me of Trump: “He would destroy everything Hillary Clinton would destroy, plus one more thing: the Republican Party.” Washington Post, March 16, 2016
Donald Trump’s vitriolic attacks against Megyn Kelly and his extreme, sick obsession with her is beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. March 18, 2016
Wall Street Journal editorial page
The opinions [Trump] should care about are the 39% of GOP voters who said in Tuesday’s [March 15th] exit polls that they would consider supporting a third-party candidate if Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are the nominees, or the 44% of non-Trump GOP voters who said they won’t cast a ballot for him in November. As Mr. Trump likes to tweet, better be careful! Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2016
The Vichy Republicans
For those who know their history, the valiant efforts of some French men and women following Germany’s takeover of France in 1940 stand as one of the finest hours in history. They put their lives in jeopardy to win back their freedom.
“The resistance” was a small minority in France during World War II. Many French men and women simply remained neutral in the face of German aggression. The most despicable element in that country were those who collaborated with their new rulers.
George Will, in a column in the Washington Post on March 13, 2016, notes that “Mitt Romney’s denunciations and ridicules, reciprocating Trump’s, are not designed to dissuade Trump voters. It is axiomatic that you cannot reason a person out of a position that the person has not been reasoned into. The adhesive that binds Trumpkins to their messiah can be dissolved by neither facts nor eloquence. Romney and other defenders of Republican traditions are trying to prevent a stampede to Trump of ‘Vichy Republicans,”’ collaborationists coming to terms with the occupation of their party.”
After going through the five stages of grief, it appears that many Republicans are arriving at the fifth stage, acceptance. Unaware of or unconcerned about the damage that Trump was doing to their party at the early stages of the presidential cycle and unable now to do anything to stop him, they, the Vichy Republicans, are one-by-one, surrendering and collaborating. The Party of Lincoln is now the Party of Trump.
Locally, Congressman Chris Collins has stepped to the forefront of the movement. He is quoted in the Buffalo News on March 5, 2016 saying “I have said I’ll do anything they [the Trump campaign] want me to do.” Perhaps in the weeks to come we will see Collins introduce legislation to build that wall (and make Mexico pay for it); open up the libel laws to encourage suits against the media; deport 11 million people (the Wall Street Journal says that will cost $400 billion); ban Muslims from entering the country; raise tariffs, et cetera, et cetera.
Southern tier Congressman Thomas Reed (sort of) endorsed Trump last week, although his weak statement made it appear that he had been pressured into doing so.
As Donald Trump solidifies his hold on the Republican Party, we can see that there may soon be two Republican Parties. The New York Times this past Sunday discussed Republican efforts to either stop Trump or to run a third-party conservative to prevent him from winning the presidency.
It is actually understandable that the Trumpkins feel that it is their turn to control things, having been expected in past elections to support what passes for moderate Republicans these days. What the Trumpkins fail to realize, however, is that there exists a smaller but not insignificant second base in the party who think demagoguery and a lack of a coherent set of conservative programs has no place in the party. Trump and company ignore that second base at their peril. Where is Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose Party when you really need him?