It took almost three years for a meaningful number of Senate Republicans to discover something obvious to even the weakest intellect: that this president’s lifelong addiction to having his palm and ego (and Lord knows what else) greased would lead him to betray anyone and everything.
As Turkish forces roll into Kurdish Rojava, these shallow solons are just-asking: Who could have possibly foreseen that a rage-fueled sociopath with a comic-book-level understanding of the world would be easily manipulated into making America a willing collaborator in the genocide of a loyal, pro-American ally?
Everyone, you dolts.
Set aside the weird, small cadre of Trumpist True Believers; they’re mainly just mental bottom feeders who take Trump literally, seriously, and in any orifice he chooses. Leave out the cohort of Republicans who live—if you can call it that—in constant terror of Trump’s tweeted wrath. Those pitiful worms grovel and scrape, secretly seething but lacking the necessary moral fortitude to stand up to his grunting yokel Boomer army and the bellowing agitporn of Fox News hosts.
They’ve been on even shakier ground than usual since the beginning of the Ukraine imbroglio, with many quietly whispering, “Oh, shit. Did he just do that?” You’ll notice how many of them suddenly lost the ability to read when the call transcript emerged, and how as the initial whistleblower’s claims have been validated by more witnesses and documents, they’ve become either raging conspiracy whackjobs or mutes.
After the White House dropped its “fuck you” stonewall letter on impeachment, some Senate Republicans actually breathed a sigh of relief that he’d at least changed the subject: “Well, we dodged another bullet! High fives all around!”
Boys, boys. To quote the noted political scientist and essayist Bane, “Your punishment must be more severe.”
No, the people who learned the hard lesson of Trump’s utter shitiness this week were the alleged grown-ups, the supposed smart-guy opportunists in the U.S. Senate. Shocked, shocked Lindsey Graham is swooning on his fainting couch as Turkish forces begin a bloody incursion into Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria with Trump’s full endorsement and permission. Graham—who’s talking feebly about a “red line” in the Senate—is smart enough to know what’s coming but too weak to actually strike a blow at the man who enabled Erdogan to begin the slaughter for which he plainly hungers.
You can clearly tell other Republican senators are trying to have it both ways on the Kurds by issuing semi-stern tweets that “disagree with the administration” or express variations of the now-typical furrowed brow or deep concern. Some release multi-part tweets that somehow never get to the real point; the cause of the extant crisis.
When Marco Rubio tweets about how the “Damage to our reputation & national interest will be extraordinary & long lasting” he elides the name “Donald Trump” as the cause of that damage. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, “A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime” he doesn’t mention the name of the man who just ordered that precipitous withdrawal.
You’ll notice their sin is of omission: They rarely call out Trump by name. And if they won’t issue a tweet naming Trump and his mistakes, don’t expect them to stand in front of the camera and say the words that anyone who takes their oath of office seriously must say: “President Trump is wrong. This decision hurts America.”
It’s almost as if they won’t @ Trump or tag Trump because they want the press to report their weak-sauce concern and for their liege lord to miss it. Perhaps they hope a Bible verse will sway the famously religious (and by “famously religious” I mean, “not at all religious”) Trump.
There is no “administration” in this equation. There is no center to hold. This was not a decision by some amorphous force in the State Department or the bowels of the White House. It certainly didn’t come from the United States military forces on the ground in Syria and embedded with the Kurds; they’re in a state of absolute fury at Trump’s betrayal.
There is only Trump, a bundle of narcissism, grotesque ignorance, and reckless idiocy. He owns it, lock, stock, and bloody barrel.
Unless they call evil and misdeeds by name, they’re not serious about addressing the consequences. Unless they confront Donald J. Trump, they’re a party to the atrocities that spring from his actions. Unless they stand up and make him pay for those actions they’re not leaders; they’re accomplices.
I’m not holding my breath.
For a long while, many of Trump’s other Senate enablers played this shameful game with a nod and a wink to the cameras. “I’m just here for the judges! I’m not really a Trumper… I’m just playing one to fool the rubes, and so Donald will listen to me.” They viewed Trump, and Trumpism as either the grim present or the glowing future of the GOP, and whether their pet issue was taxes or foreign policy or judges, they excused their aggressive ass-kissing as the price of admission.
These “serious” Republicans bent the knee to remain on his momentary good list and offered up their integrity, dignity, and reputations to a man notorious for his lack of integrity, dignity, or reputation. You’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that Trump’s vortex of destruction is merrily sucking them under, a black hole of political and moral hazard.
We live in an era where nothing is hidden. The all-seeing eye of social media and cellphones will capture the horrors of the Turkish campaign, the slaughter of the Kurds. It will also record, forever, the cringing, cowardly silence of Trump’s party. Trump himself will be remembered—in the long encyclopedia of his other failings—as a catastrophe for America at home and abroad.
This one is a layup, and most are failing a bright political and moral test—a true red line. The Senate GOP knows that empowering Turkey, Russia, and Iran, while gleefully threatening to flood Europe with ISIS prisoners the Kurds held on our behalf, is geopolitical fuckery.
Trump broke something in the Senate Republicans, something deep and fundamental. He numbed not only their prior commitment to conservative principles but even their very instinct for survival. Some feel their conscience pricking but live in fear of Trump’s rage and that of his mob. They wonder in the darkest hours of the night, “How will history remember my name?”
At this writing, only a few of them have had the courage to act with candor and honor. Mitt Romney, reviled by the president’s cult, called out Trump almost immediately and took the full blast of Trump’s tweeted rage with aplomb. Some promise to find their courage after the primary filing deadlines in their home states.
By their silence and cowardice most of the men and women of today’s Republican Senate will be remembered in history as profiles not in courage, but chickenshit.