The national Republican party is not what it used to be. It is now, in effect, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Trump Organization. Bootlicking GOP leaders do Donald Trump’s bidding. They have adopted Donald Trump’s ugly approach to politics. And they imitate his worst behaviors.
How else can anyone explain why the GOP condemns it own members for any and every act of decency and sanity? Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz at a rally in Wyoming on January 28, calls Liz Cheney, who dared to vote for the president’s impeachment, a “Beltway bureaucrat turned fake cowgirl.” Or Nebraska GOP leaders move to censure Senator Ben Sasse for daring to criticize a president who incited an insurrection and still refuses to concede that he lost the election.
I have the good fortune to be part of a group of guys who meet for coffee every week. We’re all getting along in years, but when somebody in our little community of Westwood Hills, Kansas, dubbed us the Coffee Boys, the moniker stuck.
We’ve been meeting every Tuesday morning for nearly two decades. It’s an amazing band of brothers-under-the-skin—physicians, lawyers, professors, a railroad executive, and one child-prodigy who became a concert violinist now in his 90s. The topics of conversation range widely.
For the record, although the Hi Hat coffee shop is only a few blocks from Patrick Mahome’s house in Kansas City and George Brett was long part of another group of Hi Hat regulars, we seldom talk about sports. Or cars. Or the stock market. (Which, we’ve been told, makes our conversations (a) uncommonly interesting or (b) unspeakably boring, depending on your point of view. A barista first made us aware of this fact when she ticked off the things we talk about: history, literature, music philosophy, foreign travel, science.)
We rarely talk politics, but the last few months have been so tumultuous and the stakes so high that, with the notable exception of a raging pandemic, most other topics pale by comparison—not least, the June 6 attack on the Nation’s Capitol and the impending trial in the Senate of a twice-impeached fallen president. The questions raised the last time we met suggest the gravity of our recent conversations.
To wit: What are the chances there will be anything like a real trial this time around? In a Senate split 50-50, how likely is it that enough Republicans will join the Democrats to convict Trump? How long will the GOP continue to be in thrall to Trump?
Typically everybody in the group has an opinion on matters of such immediacy. We all talk and we all listen. We don’t always agree, but we also don’t argue. Disagreements most often involve nuances rather than deep philosophical differences. Unlike Congress, we don’t address one another as “the honorable” anything but—also unlike Congress—we actually respect each other and care more about learning the truth of the matter at hand than about being right or winning an argument or winning, full stop.
We seldom resolve anything to everyone’s satisfaction, but that’s okay. The intent is not to reach definitive answers but to shed light on important questions.
Only losers care more about winning than playing fair or doing the right thing. Which is why the Trump-drunk GOP now appears to a fast-growing majority of Americans as a party of liars and losers.
Liars because the president they enabled has a personality disorder that compels him to hide behind the Big Lie he calls “fake facts”. Losers not simply in the sense of losing an election or control of the Senate or a fight over the rules.
The GOP has become the party of losers in no small part because it continues to protect a pathological liar. A two-time loser of the popular vote who ridiculously refuses to allow the attorneys tasked with preparing his defense in his second impeachment trial to refer to him as the “former president”.
Donald Trump claims to be the victim of a stolen election and insists on maintaining the fiction that he is still the lawful president! Now step back and consider not only the idiocy of such a claim, but also, and more importantly, the implications for his trial in the Senate.
Trump’s refusal to concede defeat undercuts his best and only defense, namely that he’s no longer president and therefore the whole point of holding a trial—to convict an impeached chief executive and in so doing to remove him from office—is moot. But in this case, it isn’t. For an unhinged former president to refuse to concede that he lost the election is not only unprecedented but also poses a clear and present danger to the government.
Donald Trump has shown that he will stop at nothing to reclaim the presidency. His fanatical followers believe in conspiracy theories, remain unreconciled to his defeat, and not a few are clearly prepared to take up arms at his command. This unprecedented state of affairs calls for unprecedented action, namely the conviction and formal removal of the 45th president who refuses to concede that he is no longer president.
The United States Senate has a second chance to put an end to this national nightmare. There will be no third. In all likelihood, Senate Republicans will refuse to do the right thing—again. If and when that happens, it will fall to the American people—the voters—to save the country from a rogue party that sold its soul to a rogue president.
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