On Wednesday, Republican Senator Mike Lee publicly and loudly lambasted the Donald Trump regime for its handling of the Soleimani fallout, before retracting it the next day. On Thursday, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz voted to take away Trump’s war powers against Iran. If the pattern holds, he’ll soon fall back in line as well. So what’s really going on here?
We’re seeing a lot of discussion of these incidents as if they were about courage, and/or a lack thereof. I don’t buy it. When you’re dealing with anyone who’s willing to be a member of the current Republican Party, concepts like courage and character don’t apply. These folks have sold their souls to try to hang onto their seats in Congress in the Trump era. Now what we’re seeing is a series of bets being hedged.
Donald Trump has dissolved into a guy who gives orders so erratic and incoherent, even his handlers can’t explain it away after the fact. Trump has also dissolved into a guy who can’t get through a speech without sounding like he’s either severely drugged, or needs to be drugged. November is a long way away, and whatever is going wrong with this guy, it’s accelerating. There’s a small, but greater than zero, and certainly growing, chance that Trump will be too far gone to even be on the ballot in 2020.
Imagine you’re a Republican in Congress and you’ve staked your own political viability to Donald Trump, and now you’re watching him fall apart so quickly, you’re worried that – in all seriousness – he could end up in some kind of assisted living facility or padded room before election day. If that happens, the Republican Party will need a new horse to back going into 2020, and the public will be asking why no one in the GOP did anything about Trump when it first became clear that he was dissolving into a puddle of Jello.
That’s the point at which a Republican politician will want to be able to point back to something, even if just one isolated moment, in which he or she called out Donald Trump for falling to pieces. I think that’s what we’re seeing now. The Republicans are hedging their bets by getting something on the record, just in case they need it later.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report