The Donald Trump Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck is so deadly that the nation will be forced to board the Hillary Clinton Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck to survive it, as a broken back, a smashed face and need for multiple organ transplants are still more survivable than a damaged brain and a crushed heart.
Like all political Ethics Train Wrecks, however, it does allow us to learn a great deal about various pundits, politicians and public figures. Here are some early results from the wreckage once known as the Republican Party:
Ethics Heroes: The Bushes (Jeb, George H.W. and George W.) Mitt Romney, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican U.S. Senators Lindsay Graham, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner; Conservative columnist Erick Erickson, Republican strategist and operative Mary Mat Weekly Standard founder and editor William Kristol.
There will be more. To reject the apparent nominee of your own party is a nearly unprecedented step for party leaders and ex-Presidents. I can’t find any vaguely similar example since Teddy Roosevelt split the GOP with his Progressive Party in 2012. Sasse has called for a third party alternative. Eventually, we will have a more definitive list, and some of these will fall into perdition.
I haven’t been able to check all the public statements, but the anti-Trump train wreck jumpers who say that their rejection is because Trump isn’t conservative enough are minor Ethics Heroes or maybe half-heroes. Their message is fairly damning: “We will support unqualified, boorish, unstable fools as our leader as long as he’s a true conservative” isn’t very ennobling, and is, in fact, idiotic and irresponsible.
The Bushes, who have all rejected Trump (Jeb’s statement is here), are in a special category. I can’t tell if their opposition is principled or not, because it could also be personal. Trump’s personal denigration of Jeb was ugly and unprofessional; his comments about Iraq and 9-11 were ignorant and insulting to W., and the old man is going to be loyal to his sons.
Kristol and Erickson are the most ethically heroic of this group so far, because though they are leading conservative voices in the media, they are basing their decision on the right factor: character, or rather, Trumps utter lack of any. Kristol wrote in part, after saying that he had never voted for anyone but the GOP Presidential nominee:
“I cannot vote for Donald Trump. It’s not clear that his mixed bag of motley policies would be superior to those of his Democratic opponent. He could well pick better Supreme Court justices, which is important; but he could well pursue a less sound foreign policy, which is also important. But policy is not the issue. Character is. It is clear that Donald Trump does not have the character to be president of the United States.”
I don’t see why this is even a hard choice. Erickson was even more direct, writing,
If so much were not on the line, it would be somewhat humorous to watch. But the Supreme Court hangs in the balance; the relationship between the states and federal government hangs in the balance; and our relationship with our allies hangs in the balance. All of these things are at stake and the party that fancies itself as the grown up party has handed itself over to a huckster with a cult of ill behaved children…Angry voters made a terrible miscalculation in the Republican primary. They presumed that the rest of the nation shared their anger. They were wrong and now, with so much on the line, the Republicans will field as their Presidential nominee the least popular Presidential candidate in American history. God save the republic.
Meanwhile, Matalin has bolted the party and registered as a libertarian.
Ethics Dunces: The Republican Party, RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Dick Cheney. Of course Cheney supports Trump: he also supported torture. Priebus is so weak that calling him weak insults the weak. This happened on his watch, and he had the power to stop it, if he had the sense God gave a slug. After Trump made a luaghably lame effort to begin repairing his relationship with Hispanics by tweeting a picture of himself with a taco bowl. Priebus said, “He’s trying.” Trying what? He doesn’t have a Presidential instinct in his body or mind. Trying? Like he was trying in this exchange with Bret Baier on Fox?
Trump: The war in Iraq was perhaps the worst decision ever made in this country’s history. It totally de-stabilized the Middle East. It was a total disaster. It was made by Bush.”
Baier : Now on that, I just want to clear that up. You’ve come out with articles, but there’s audio of you before there were…Trump: No, there isn’t. No, there isn’t.
Baier: There’s a