There was a time when the Republican Party fancied itself the party of personal responsibility. Of course it was aimed directly at welfare recipients — the “takers” — and was never intended to trigger blowback. The party’s use of racist “Southern Strategy” dog whistles has grown in recent years, super-charged by Donald Trump’s grievance politics. Sure, the Republicans continue to demonize welfare recipients, immigrants and working class Americans today, but they seemed to have backed away from overtly claiming to be the grownups in the room, refusing, now, to accept responsibility for their own shortcomings.
Nope. Today, the Trump-led Republican Party is all about petty grievances, blaming their alleged struggles on everyone except themselves. This is one of central prongs of Trumpism. The GOP’s former penchant for stoicism and self-reliance has been replaced by crazy-eyed whining, taking its cues now from the whiniest public figure in the history of American politics, Trump himself, of course, whose notoriously cranky bellyaching comes off as the ceaseless lament of a recess bully who blames his own unpopularity and personal inadequacies on everyone else and isn’t afraid to collapse into flailing hissy fits when things don’t go his way.
Predictably enough, he’s up to the same nonsense with the confirmation process of Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
On Monday, Trump pretended as if he and his party aren’t personally to blame for the Democrats (and Rand Paul) pledging to vote against confirming Pompeo.
Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 23, 2018
Former Bush administration press secretary, Ari Fleischer, parroted the president’s whining but on a different topic.
This is slimy. Mueller has the duty to investigate collusion, not Trump’s business deals. He will lose legitimacy if he strays from his mission. The author of this piece, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, wants Mueller to go down that road. That’s slimy. https://t.co/TVWaE5N4N4
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 22, 2018
Let’s do the Fleischer tweet first. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein officially sanctioned Robert Mueller’s “slimy” excursion into Trump’s finances before Mueller even stepped into his role. According to Order No. 3915-2017, issued by Rosenstein on May 17, 2017, Mueller has the authority to investigate “any matter that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Legally, Mueller can absolutely do what he’s doing. But Fleischer and the Red Hats don’t care about facts and the rule of law when desperately struggling to extricate their Shitty Grandpa from his own wrongdoing. Case closed.
And, of course, the grievances and whining is falling on deaf ears anyway, given how special prosecutor Ken Starr jumped from investigating the Clintons’ Whitewater matter and landed on President Clinton perjuring himself about whether Monica Lewinsky gave him head. So, no, Republicans don’t get to lecture anyone on investigatory creep.
As for Trump’s tweet, a two-word response ought to suffice: Merrick Garland. President Obama’s nominee to jump into Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court was blocked for no procedural or scandalous reason at all. Ideologically, Garland, a squeaky clean moderate, should’ve been easily confirmed. But the Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, refused to hold a single hearing — running out the clock until after Election Day. And now they’re bitching about obstruction? That’s rich.
Furthermore, Republican obstructionism and brinksmanship began long before the Garland fiasco. It was the majority party, not the Democrats, who began playing grabass with the debt ceiling and the federal budget. They also tossed aside the collegiality of the Senate, abandoning regular order and setting records for filibustering. Check the number of cloture motions (votes to end filibusters) over the last 50 years, but note the Obama years on the far right of the graph in particular:
It turns out that when a party or a politician rejects a political norm — shocker — the other party has no choice but to follow suit or be entirely steamrolled. This is one of many reasons why Trumpism is so dangerous. It’s not just Trump we should be concerned about, it’s the long succession of copycats and poseurs that will also be cancers on the system, as Greg Sargent discussed in his column today.
When Trump and his disciples whine like this, the universal response ought to be: “Stop whining!” The second group refrain should be: “You made this!” Trump and his clones need to grow up and accept responsibility for their awfulness, but they never will. Instead, we get this cowardly, childish gaslighting in which they deliberately drive political traditions to extinction then blame the other guys when their diapers hit the fan.
When bad things happen in politics, it’s no easy task to crowbar those bad things back into the bottle. Trumpism needs to be punished, disgraced and disappeared or else we’re in for many years of the continued de-evolution of American politics until it’s nothing but President Camacho spritzing the crops with Brawndo. And by the way, it won’t take long for the Trumpism virus to infect the left. It’s already happening with disillusioned Bernie Sanders supporters and other left-libertarians.
The Red Hat whiners have to be summarily hurled onto the slagheap of history, joining the Nixon administration, Japanese internment, Bush era torture, the genocide of indigenous Americans, Jim Crow, segregation and slavery — or else. The dignity and the integrity of the republic, the American experiment, and, naturally, the rule of law hang in the balance.