As Republican Ethics Heroes And Dunces Board, Dodge Or Drive The Donald Trump Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck

off the train

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.”

Of course.

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.

Indeed

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

27 thoughts on “As Republican Ethics Heroes And Dunces Board, Dodge Or Drive The Donald Trump Presidential Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck

    • We can’t. This isn’t the year for third party candidates with no chance at all or a principled-stand with a write-in candidate. Any vote for a third candidate – unless, by the grace of God, someone pops up within the next six months that can rally up enough votes to actually make a difference – will just increase the chance that Trump will win the White House.

      We can’t let that happen.

      I hate saying it because I’ve been a lifelong Republican and it makes me utterly furious to even think about it. But I don’t see any other way around it. To keep him out, I’ve got to vote for a Democrat. And it just cheeses me off that I may have to vote for Hillary Clinton.

  1. 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.

    Yup. Though voting Libertarian might be an option if HRC looks like a shoe-in. Some good might come out of this if a viable 3rd party emerges. The trouble is… that increases the risk of a Trump presidency.

  2. Regarding Erickson’s statement; It’s not that we aren’t just as angry, we just don’t think the solution is to burn it all down with corrupt cult leader. My mother always said, “two wrongs don’t make a right” which absolutely applies here. There are rumors that Ted Cruz may have suspended as a strategy move & some are saying a lot could happen between now & convention to change course. I have my doubts. Since I can’t, in good conscience vote for Trump or Clinton, I will either be writing in or going 3rd party while preparing to survive a Clinton presidency. The number of conservatives sitting this one out dwarfs those who sat out on Romney so I don’t see how Trump beats Hillary. Those crossovers will go right back to mama for the general, especially after the media smear campaigns are through.

  3. After the mess is over, regardless of outcome…what happens to all the Trump voters, numerous enough to have taken over the GOP?

    Will they convert to Democrats? Will they be booted out of the GOP? Will they decide they were wrong and just quietly fade away (yeah right)?

    There’s a powerful constituency out there, with demonstrated political clout. Even if Trump is resoundingly defeated – the most likely prospect – demonization is not an effective strategy for dealing with them in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Who will tap them, and how?

    • I dispute this theme, Charles. I read it from both left and right. There is demonization, and there is fact. Trump supporters may warrant sympathy, but not respect, and calling them anything but ignorant fools or, in the case of political and journalist allies of convenience, cynical betrayors of their own nation. We don’t give respect to those who advocate creationism or who maintain white supremacy, who insist that Bush took down the Twin Towers or that God made Man in His own image but fashioned women out of mud, and the only class of word that fits someone who regards a proven liar as a truthteller, a coward as a hero, a boor as a statesman, a dolt as a guru and a con man as a leader is the class that includes “moron,” “dupe,” “mark” and “ignoramus.” I don’t care if this “angers” them, and nobody should be afraid to tell it like it is to the clods who think that’s such a virtue in someone show doesn’t.

      • I have a lot of sympathy for your viewpoint as a factual matter. They are, as a matter of fact–I agree–marks and dupes.

        But statements of fact don’t sway men’s minds. In fact, exactly the opposite. Note the oppositional power generated by Obama’s description of the right as motivated by guns and religion. Or Romey’s 47% characterization.

        The unprecedented number of GOP voters turned up by Trump is far beyond the fringe nut-job comparisons you cite; and, more importantly, they won’t be dissuaded, or converted, or turned to something more positive by calling them “morons” or “ignoramuses.” If anything, stopping at name-calling will just feed the cynical anger that already motivates them.

        If someone can figure out a positive political path to channel all the energy being shown by Trump supporters, they’d have quite a movement on their hands.

        And–racist fringes aside– I don’t see that energy as being inherently any more attuned to the right than to some populist version of the left.

        • “The unprecedented number of GOP voters turned up by Trump is far beyond the fringe nut-job comparisons you cite; and, more importantly, they won’t be dissuaded, or converted, or turned to something more positive by calling them “morons” or “ignoramuses.” If anything, stopping at name-calling will just feed the cynical anger that already motivates them.”

          I don’t think the number is beyond the idiot/nut job numbers at all. I didn’t say fringe. Smart and informed people are the fringe, always have been. Usually those who don’t know enough to figure it all out rely on them and trust them. Obama’s certitude while making awful decisions are among the factors weakening that trust. Dim-bulbs abound, and democracy is always at risk of the majority of sub-average thinkers taking over. Usually the wisdom of crowds comes through. But simply according respect and deference to the mob is dangerous. Yes: the “elite”, aka people who by training and ability should know what they are doing, have flopped badly. But choosing a Trump just proves why the rest aren’t qualified to govern themselves. Again, a diagnosis isn’t name calling, and if you can think of a word to describe Trump supporters that is sufficiently descriptive and not an objective insult, let me know.

          I know a lot of people, from multi-millionaires to minimum wage workers, Phds and high school drop outs, lawyers, actors, teachers, mechanics, military types. It appears that I know no Trump supporters, though a branch of my Mom’s family notable for their bigotry and ignorance might prove me wrong if I was ever going to speak with them again.

          • http://www.stentorian.com/propagan.html

            This page explains principles of propaganda.

            Do not direct propaganda against the opposing side’s rank-and-file. They are the people whom you want to persuade to cease resistance, malinger, desert, mutiny, or even change sides.
            “Sending the Japanese cartoons of themselves, mocking the German language, calling Italians by familiar but inelegant names- such communications cropped up during the [Second World] war. The senders got a lot of fun out of the message but the purpose was unintelligently considered. The actual effect was to annoy the enemy, stiffening his will to resist.” (Linebarger, p. 40. Emphasis is mine)
            “Then go after the Propaganda Man [hypothetical listener on the other side] yourself. He is your friend. You are his friend. The only enemy is the enemy Leader (or generals, or emperor, or capitalists, or ‘They’).” (Linebarger, p. 154) The rank-and-file member of the opposing side is not a villain, he is a victim. His leader or boss is exploiting him. The opposing leader is not only your enemy, but your listener’s enemy as well.
            “For psychological warfare purposes, it is useful to define the enemy as: (1) the ruler, (2) or the ruling group, (3) or unspecified manipulators, (4) or any definite minority. It is thoroughly unsound to define the enemy too widely.” (p. 51) The rank-and-file member of the opposing side is not “the enemy.” He or she is a victim of the enemies suggested by Linebarger: his/her ruler, ruling group, etc. “The sound psychological warfare operator will try to get enemy troops to believing that the enemy is not themselves but somebody else- the King, the Fuhrer, the elite troops, the capitalists. … ‘We’re not fighting you. We are fighting the So-and-so’s who are misleading you.'”
            Antigun cartoonist Benson’s depiction of a beer-swilling, beer-bellied, unkempt, apparently uneducated “NRA member,” while in the same category as the Nazis’ depiction of Jews with exaggerated Semitic features, probably backfired by antagonizing every National Rifle Association member who saw it, along with many other responsible firearm owners.
            “Hate” propaganda must be directed only against the enemy leaders.

            • I’m not trying to persuade Trump voters. They have plenty to persuade them if they had the brains to be persuaded. Giving their “position” respect it doesn’t deserve just reduces the cognitive dissonance for borderline idiots who might be persuaded to join them.

              When a single Trump voter who hasn’t demonized Democrats sends or has published a single coherent, ethical, fact based reason to think he has any qualifications for President, I’ll reconsider my attitude. I have looked and read, and I haven’t seen one. The closest are rationalizations, like “he isn’t the worst possible candidate.”

    • I think there are a fair number of Democrats (I know several) who voted for Trump because they thought Clinton was a sure thing — and that Clinton would easily defeat Trump. In the general election, they will vote for Clinton.

      I did change my party status to Republican to vote in this primary, but I did it to vote AGAINST Cruz and Trump. I really wanted Kasich to get the nomination, even if I thought it would mean that he would win over Clinton or Sanders in November.

      I mention these party-switching anecdotes only to question whether or not this may be part of a larger phenomenon. There are countless news reports, articles, blogs, etc. moaning over the lack of Democratic turnout and the vast numbers of Democrats who switched registrations to vote for Trump. Well, is it possible that the Democrats DID turn out in record numbers, they just did it to swing the primary to Trump so their candidate could win in the Fall?

      If true, I find this despicable by the way. I thought long and hard whether it was fair for me to switch given that I knew I would vote for Clinton in the general election. I decided that it was okay given that I was voting for someone who I thought had integrity and would be a capable President — even if I did not agree with all his positions. But voting for the enemy to try and tank the Republican party? That’s unethical behavior. I don’t care if people switch parties, but they are morally obligated to vote for someone who they feel would be a good leader.

      • I’ve written about variations of this in the past, mostly in regard to various Rush Limbaugh plots to use conservative voters to swing the Democratic nomination to who he thought was the weaker candidate. It is despicable: dishonest, unfair, and disrespectful of process. I very, very, very much doubt that any such efforts by Democrats had any substantial effect on the Trump phenomenon.

        • This is… foreign to me. In order to vote in Canadian party leadership conventions, you must be a paid member of that party, but party membership isn’t exclusive. A friend of mine bought a Progressive Conservative membership in Alberta 12 years ago because (and I quote) ”The PC’s are going to win anyway, at least Ed is the best of that bunch.” I don’t know this… but from the way you’re talking, party membership is exclusive? How does that work?

  4. I’m happy someone is keeping a running tab. If I may include two more, Megan McArdle and Ross Douthat. They were on the nevertrump wagon for a while, islands of sanity in my twitter feed.

  5. “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.

    Many or perhaps most would, however, cite stability and civility as critical conservative values that Trump lacks.

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