John L. Micek, 2/25/2016 [Archive]

With Trump, GOP Abandoning Their Principles

By John L. Micek

Let's call it.

Sometime around 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, when the Nevada caucuses ended, the Republican Big Tent was folded up, put into a box marked "relic," and wheeled into the back of the same giant warehouse last seen during the closing credits of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

In its place is the smoking remnants of a party whose vulgar standard-bearer gleefully calls his opponents "p****es;" dismisses Pope Francis as a "pawn" of the Mexican government; openly supports physical violence against those who disagree with him, and whose relationship with the truth is a glancing one at best.

Donald Trump is many things: A schoolyard bully. A narcissist. A preening xenophobe and rabid nationalist. He is racist. He is assuredly sexist. And he is a dangerous blight on our politics.

But he is not presidential.

And the Republican Party's abdication of its responsibility to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, Trump's vitriol is an embarrassment to a party that once proudly laid claim to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

If there was any doubt that Republicans had put their desire to recapture the White House ahead of their principles, it was laid to rest by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Wednesday.

"I think it's pretty clear we're going to embrace whoever the nominee is. I embrace all of these candidates," Priebus told CNN on Wednesday morning. "Whoever the nominee ends up becoming they're going to join the biggest RNC operation we've put together."

Listening to Priebus cravenly hitch his fortunes to Trump's hateful juggernaut, it was easy to forget that, just four years ago, the party was singing an entirely different, more inclusive tune.

In 2013, right after Mitt Romney lost them the White House for the second time, a cadre of Republican thought-leaders got together, wracked their brains, and quite sensibly concluded the party had to become more diverse, not less, if it was to survive and thrive.

That 97-page report was intended to shed the GOP's reputation as an "out of touch" party full of "stuffy old men," who weren't interested in courting Hispanics, Asians and other voting blocs that are expected to dominate the American electorate in the years to come.

"The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic, community, or region of this country," a presumably different Reince Priebus said just three, scant years ago as that report was rolled out at the National Press Club.

So instead of embracing a candidate who might exemplify those values, the RNC is instead prepping itself for a likely nominee who has called Mexicans rapists and killers; denounced a leading female journalist as a "bimbo;" called for temporarily barring Muslims from entering the country and dismissed violence inspired by his policies as the work of "very passionate" (overwhelmingly white) supporters.

And last week, he mused whether President Barack Obama might have attended the late Antonin Scalia's funeral if it "were held in a mosque."

Seriously? That's the future Priebus wants to embrace?

That's not even addressing the chicanery that underlies what passes for Trump's platform.

Trump's tax plan would punch a $12 trillion hole in federal revenues over 10 years, according to analyses by the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice and the conservative Tax Foundation. It would be the costliest proposal offered by the remaining GOP candidates, The New York Times reported.

Trump has countered that lost revenues would be countered by robust economic growth. But Trump's claims of a 6 percent growth in GDP triggered by his cuts fly in the face of historic U.S. growth rates, which have averaged around 2.2 percent since the recession ended.

If there is any consolation, it is that Trump did not win the majority of Republican votes in any of the three nominating contests held so far. But there are indications that could change.

Trump took nearly 46 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Nevada caucus. His nearest competitors, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, each finished a distant second or third in the Silver State.

That anemic performance becomes all the more troubling as Super Tuesday beckons and the primary race moves into states where Cruz and Rubio must perform above a certain threshold for proportionality rules on delegates to kick in.

So there's time for Republican voters to wake up. The question is, now that they've been fed a steady diet of his fantastical snake oil, whether they'll want to.

——

©Copyright 2016 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at jmicek@pennlive.com.

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