Republicans Opposing Trump are a Bit of a Mystery

Why have some Republicans fought so much harder against the Trump presidency and Trump legislative agenda than they ever did against Obama? It’s especially the case among Republicans in Congress, and as noted on this blog before, I think it’s also the case among certain GOP factions here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Normally, when your candidate loses a primary, you hate the victor and his supporters for a modest period of time but then everyone makes up and moves on to the general election. I’m not a Democrat, but I get the impression that’s what the Democrats usually do. It’s an intelligent approach, obviously, in fulfilling the mission of the party, which is to get its candidates into public office.

Some Republicans REALLY did not pull together after Donald Trump won over Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and the others, which is weird, because Republican office holders have often been terrible and every Republican knows it. Those who suggested Trump was likely to be not “conservative” enough were either ignorant or liars, because the party had not had such a person in the White House or as the nominee for a very long time.

The last couple Republican presidents left legacies that departed substantially from whatever “conservative” platform the Republican Party and the presidential campaign foisted on unwary voters to get the putzes elected.

Actually, the last couple Republican presidents’ legacies are worse than unkept promises because all that stuff that “conservative” think tanks and thousands of Republican political campaigns have been saying are so critically important, as reasons to vote for the Republican du jour, all the terrible changes to American society and government that this or that Republican was going to prevent, got worse under the Republican presidents named Bush.

Were the Bushes better than Clinton or Obama? Probably, but not by a lot. Here’s how you can tell that: you don’t see many people writing stories contrasting the Bush presidencies with the Obama or Clinton presidencies.

You don’t see a lot of infographics or memes put out by “conservatives” recalling the glorious eras of the Bushes. That’s because there is very little to feel proud about from those periods, I believe.

Thus we have to wonder, for any Republican with any knowledge of history, what is the problem with Trump? After his first year in office, we now know, he’s come a lot closer to accomplishing what the “conservatives” have been promising than any other recent president. If not for opposition by Republicans in Congress, Trump would have accomplished much more of what Republicans promise every time an election comes around.

It’s not my purpose to get into a detailed public policy discussion at this time, but any Republican with a knowledge of history knows exactly what I am referring to. The short answer is that when it comes to the “conservative” principles that candidates and consultants have been bloviating about for the past 25 years, President Trump doesn’t look too bad compared to nearly all other Republican office holders.

Unless the logic is that the past two Republican presidents get a pass for almost total failure, but Donald Trump will suddenly be held to the very highest standard of “conservative” wish lists or be deemed an enemy of the people, there seems to be some disconnect. There seems to be some major inconsistency from the “conservative” elites, almost to the point that one wonders if they are worth listening to, on any subject, ever again.

The thought that “conservative” leaders could be anything less than exemplars of integrity is inconceivable to me, so I will leave that dilemma for now and go back to the original question of: Why the Trump hate?

One of many bizarre examples will suffice. Speaking of Republican presidents: George W. Bush did not make a single public comment about anything that Barack Obama did during the latter’s presidency. Maybe I missed a statement or two, but I think I’m right in saying that Bush never said a word as Obama spent years verbally trashing the Bush presidency and, policy-wise, being rather non-conservative, adding over $9 trillion to our debt, and even using the federal machinery in ways that some consider unethical. Does George W. Bush not care about our grandchildren? But Bush never found much to criticize in Obama — or Bill Clinton, in fact.

How is it, then, that Bush finds the motivation to come out of his respectful shell and criticize Donald Trump so relatively mercilessly? There’s a topic that, seriously, someone could write a book about, knowing what we know now.

We know that Trump is divisive. He is more divisive for American political and media experts than Godzilla was for urban neighborhoods in Japan. In the end the Japanese loved Godzilla, as I think in one of the later films it was revealed he was fed GMO fish as a child and once he transitioned to soy-based foods he mellowed considerably. But there will be no soy for Donald Trump. And the rationale for political opposition seems to transcend all the normal triggers, such as public policy.

Republicans seem to have finally gotten a president who is willing to sign into law all the “conservative” agenda items that “conservative” Republicans have been shilling with for two or three decades, and it’s almost like these Republican elites are petrified that they could be allowed to deliver on marketing messages. Why, it’s almost as though all those campaign messages and fundraising letters were untrue, and actually depended on the promises not being fulfilled in order to continue to scare ignorant voters and donors in the future.

But now comes Trump, looming over the skyline, threatening to trample and destroy the City of Promises by delivering on Republican promises. He’s a monster.

That’s one reason, then, for the Trump hate.

Another reason, which is purely speculative on my part, but I am grasping for straws here, is that maybe there have been activities that people in Washington D.C. are not proud of, and that Trump threatens to expose. Maybe some people knew even before Trump was elected that he would not “play ball” and that’s why they went on the warpath against him, and now that he is in office, are worried about what he might do.

Who knows. But one thing I do know is that if Republicans had the political intelligence of their Democratic Party counterparts, the GOP might accomplish all the things it has promised for so long. That thought must keep some of them awake at night.

What’s Happening in Washington Today?

Last night, one of the best news bloggers, Sundance from Last Refuge, had this odd, cryptic post on twitter:
Last Refuge twitter
There’s been an ongoing rumbling beneath the surface of the commercial news as well as independent news outlets that affairs in the nation’s capital are more confusing than usual, like a storm is about to break but the weather radar is broken.

My take has been that the Trump Administration has lost faith in the media and therefore is careful what is revealed and when. It leaves the public with unanswered questions, but if the news media are unreliable, then unanswered questions are what you will have.

But Sundance is among a tiny number of reliable commentators at any level, which makes this post stand out to me.

So: Something’s coming?

Virginia Republican Loss Reveals Miscalculation

Here is a follow-up to the last post, about the rebuke Virginia Republicans suffered at the polls at the November 7, 2017 elections. My criticism might seem presumptuous without backing up the argument.

And yes, the Republicans were “rebuked” in the elections in the same sense that the rats that attempted to move into our yard were rebuked when I electrocuted them and threw their carcasses in the trash bin from whence they were hauled to the landfill.

I will note that there are likely much bigger stories in America right now than the GOP’s epic stomping in the Commonwealth. One gets the feeling events are afoot that could eclipse Virginia politics, but more on that below.

The reason I made the Republicans sound silly is because they seem to be operating with a concept of the Virginia electorate that defies common sense and basic arithmetic. As best as I can figure, the Virginia Republicans’ electoral calculation goes like this:

1). Subtract Democrat Party voters
2). Subtract supporters of President Trump
3). ??
4). VICTORY!

For the November 7 elections, step #3 was apparently “Be as boring as an old shoe.” That, we now know, was not a winning answer.

As noted last time, the Virginia GOP “expert” contingent have apparently decided that one cliff dive was not enough so they are preparing the party to take another plummet next year. To understand the mindset, it’s worth noting how they got to step #2 above.

Following the November 7 catastrophe, Republicans and conservatives from across the country weighed in in comments to the many news and social media stories. A familiar refrain was to the effect that “you have never seen such a hive of scum and villainy” as the Virginia Republican Party.

This is because Virginia Republicans have made a name for themselves as leaders in opposing President Trump. It began during the Republican National Convention last summer when Virginia Republicans were center stage trying to get delegates who had committed to Donald Trump “freed” to vote for other candidates. Since then, Virginians have apparently cemented that impression. I don’t know exactly how, but I would guess that Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has had something to do with it. Comstock rarely makes news for doing anything, but has managed to make quite a bit of news criticizing the current president — and doing so about 20 times more frequently than she criticized the last one.

Also, perhaps, politicos around the nation follow what their peers in Virginia are saying and writing. I’d estimate that 90 percent of Virginia GOP elected officials and party leadership are anti-Trump, shown both through explicit condemnation and also in more subtle ways, using their leadership position to paint the picture for lesser Republicans that “top people hate Trump.” I read a bit of news and follow some of the people on social media, and that is my impression at least.

Of course, what that says to Virginians who support President Trump is: “We consider you to be an idiot.”

It is not too much of a stretch to think that many erstwhile Republican voters would have gotten that message and had their voting ardor tamped down.

Not all of Virginia’s GOP candidates are as notoriously anti-Trump as Barbara Comstock, of course. But one odd thing you could definitely see during the past campaign period is that practically no Republican candidate even mentioned President Trump, at all. That seemed strange, especially considering that Republican also control both houses of Congress. There might be some relevance, one might presume, between the local and the national under such conditions.

But following the election, a dominant theme I saw among Republican experts was that the candidates did not sufficiently distance themselves from Donald Trump. In other words, with regard to step #2 above, future Republican candidates need to be more forceful in driving away those Trump supporters.

My personal opinion is that this might not be such a great idea, but I will reserve judgment until I see what the 2018 candidates propose for step #3.

Actually, if I had to guess, I’d say the Virginia Republicans plan to buff up some talking points from an address to Parliament circa 1903, emphasizing duty, love of country, and wool, prefaced with a quote from Ronald Reagan, and concluding by damning Donald Trump to Hell. If you think I’m joking, you don’t know Virginia’s self-styled Republican leadership.

But let’s not dwell on an imploding political party. To the point made at the top about Virginia GOP devastation not being the most important issue in America today, it is interesting to look back on how previous “big stories” can so thoroughly be eclipsed by bigger events. Back in 2001, I recall the biggest controversies in the news in this area were the disappearance of Chandra Levy and the Chinese military pilots who were flying too close to American military jets. There was also some matter with a U.S. jet that ended up landing in China and the Chinese would not let the American crew leave and also (I think) held onto the plane. These stories were a pretty big deal.

Then, September 11, 2001 happened, and all of those stories fell out of the news, and the national consciousness, for years. I bet almost nobody in the country has the slightest idea what happened with that American jet, and it’s likely that nobody outside of DC knows what the upshot of the Chandra Levy case was when it finally got reported on again 8 or 10 years later.

Here in November 2017, there seems to be a lot of world-changing activity on the horizon. Some of it, I think, might not only dominate the national news, but might even transform how we perceive the political stage right down to the local level here in Virginia. And maybe by next year the Virginia Republicans will have learned a way out of their rather hopeless-looking electoral equation.