I’m sure the paper’s editors will get a holiday gift basket from the Democratic National Committee for their nakedly partisan trap.
Erupting with indignation over Trump’s recent “let’s make fun of the disabled reporter” performer and his subsequent lie that he wasn’t doing what video shows he did, the Washington Post editors concluded with a demand that Republicans condemn Trump, or else:
[I]t is time for Republican Party leaders to make clear that they do not approve of Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration. If they do not, their party will be seen as complicit in his hatefulness, and deservedly so.
There are two reasons this is partisan and hypocritical.
- First, an official or coordinated Republican Party attack on Trump would violate the terms of Trump’s deal with the party that if he was treated fairly, Trump wouldn’t run as a third party candidate should he fail to get the GOP nomination. Since I have never heard of either party ever specifically reprimanding one of its own candidates for the nomination—I don’t think it’s happened—doing so would surely be regarded as “unfair” by Trump, and I’d agree with him. Of course, an independent Trump candidacy would guarantee the election of a Democrat. Fiendishly clever, Post!
The party could have and, I wrote here, should have scratched Trump from the nomination hunt and the debates early on, before it had given him a platform and he had become, for the nonce, a front-runner in the polls. His third party threat would have been more bluster than reality then, and without a national TV audience, Trump would have probably been content to file a lawsuit and throw a few tantrums. But it’s not called “the stupid party” for nothing. The GOP missed its window of escape. Turning on Trump now would undermine the party’s primary mission, not that the Post cares, and that is electing a Republican President.
- Second, the argument that the party not officially condemning what is done or said by its members, supporters or candidates constitutes endorsement is a “gotcha!” theory that appears to be exclusively aimed at Republicans. Does the Democratic Party have an obligation to condemn Hillary Clinton’s venal speaking fees, foundation conflicts, lies about her e-mails, hypocrisy about supporting the victims of sexual assault, and open designation of the opposing party in a democracy as an “enemy”? Does it endorse Bernie Sanders’ soft-Marxism, fiscally irresponsible proposals (increase Social Security benefits?) and class warfare by not condemning them? Every one of these things is far more material, unethical and outrageous from a presidential candidate than Trump’s mockery of a single Times reporter. It’s not the job of either party to officially attack the wrongs perpetrated by their candidates.
It is the duty of voters to do that. The parties’ duty is to provide sufficient options so voters can choose to reject disgusting and dangerous candidates like Trump, Sanders and Clinton. In that respect, the Republican Party is meeting its obligation.
In that respect, the Democratic Party is not.