It is, frankly speaking, depressing.
The Grand Old Party is about to nominate a grand old fraud.
The misogynist, congenitally uninformed, race-baiting birther and tweeter-in-chief, Donald Trump.
What went wrong?
Even the post-mortems are depressing.
The conventional view is that the Republicans are now reaping the whirlwind they have been sowing for over forty years. Going back to Nixon's tough-on-crime appeals to the silent (and mostly white) majority, through George H.W. Bush's turning Willie Horton into a poster child for liberalism's ostensible idiocy, to Romney's trope on the 47% who believe they are "victims" "dependent on government" (we all know who they are), the dog whistles on race have, it is said, come home to roost. The party of Lincoln has been reduced to a rump caucus where (mostly) angry, un- or under-employed white men easily swallow the Trump lie that illegal immigrants, affirmative action, feminists, foreigners and minorities (including the current President) are responsible for their plight.
There is a lot of truth to this view.
But there is also a lot about it that is false.
Because it lets the GOP elites off the hook . . .
Way too easily.
The plain fact is that opposing Donald Trump should have been a no-brainer for any Republican office-holder in this country. The list of disqualifiers was so long that none of them needed to wait much longer than a nano-second before declaring their opposition.
Whether you focused on Trump's support for the birthers (a truly psychotic bunch who spent years questioning Obama's birthright citizenship), his misogynistic comments on women ("fat pigs," "dogs," "disgusting animals"), his racism (undocumented Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "criminals"), his equivocation on David Duke (who everyone knows is a white supremacist but about whom Trump professed ignorance), his modern day brown-shirtism (telling supporters to "punch the crap out of" protesters; he'll pay the legal fees if the "punchers" are charged), or his ignorance on fundamental issues of policy (as in what constitutes the nuclear triad or whether, after seventy years of bi-partisan non-proliferation, we should be encouraging any country to go nuclear), Trump offered an almost daily-reason to say "be gone."
And even if none of the Republican elite, being politicians, needed to analyze the necessity of disavowing Trump much before seeing the poll numbers he was generating last year in the run up to the primaries and caucuses, the responsibility to get rid of him -- or at least try very hard -- became unavoidable once he started winning.
But the vast majority of them sat on their hands . . .
And are still doing so.
The latest equivocator is Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He announced yesterday that he thought Trump was "great" but would vote in the next week's Indiana primary for Cruz. This was considered an endorsement for Cruz. In truth, however, it was more in the nature of a "who cares." It's as if a German in the summer of 1932 said "I'm voting for the Centre Party but congrats to Adolf, who sure is telling the post-Versailles world -- and all those bankers -- a thing or two." Lindsey Graham lauded Pence for "standing up for conservatism" in endorsing Cruz. But Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post was right when he called Pence's "stand" more of a "crouch."
Pence's approach, however, has been pretty typical. Just before the Pennsylvania primary last week, that state's incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey announced that he too was voting for Cruz.
Others have not been even that forthright.
New Hampshire's top Republican (and Senator), Kelly Ayotte, has remained neutral in the Presidential contest, as has Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Both are up for re-election this year. Though only ten members of the Republican caucus in the House have endorsed Trump, of the remaining 236 GOP members, 233 of them have been silent on the choice that remains. The other thirty-three have endorsed Cruz, who has thirty-two supporters, or Kasich, who has one (to go along with his long list of former members endorsing him). On the Senate side, of the fifty-four Republican Senators, six have endorsed Cruz, two have endorsed Kasich, and one has endorsed Trump. That means forty-three GOP Senators remain neutral.
These people should be embarrassed.
For years, the whole group of them has regularly criticized Obama for ostensibly "leading from behind" (which, to them, means "not at all"). In their world, the current President has taken a back seat to Islamic fundamentalism (and its terrorist results), refusing to credibly engage while allowing or encouraging power vacuums and issuing false threats . The charge is false; in fact, what Obama has done -- in the face of a reality that renders American ground troops ineffective in what are now civil religious wars in Mesopotamia -- is lead through persuasion and diplomatic initiative, something the neo-cons decided to put on the shelf over a decade ago, much to our everlasting chagrin, but which has created (albeit slowly) measurably positive results (e.g., the nuclear deal with Iran, and the multi-lateral (and largely local) pushback against ISIS). To the GOP, this is all still a failure.
Nevertheless, you would think that a group hell bent for leadership would at least have seized the obvious opportunity to exhibit some as a fraud like Trump hijacked their presidential nomination.
Because . . .
If those 233 GOP members of the House of Representatives and forty-three GOP Senators had collectively led the fight to rid their party of Trump, there was at least a reasonable chance he would not be the GOP's presumptive nominee today.
Dante is reported to have said that "The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality." In fact, he didn't say it. Instead, President Kennedy attributed the quote to him, as have many others using variations on the theme.
JFK's Dante was right.
And today he is looking at all those Republican office holders . . .
Sitting on the sidelines . . .
As the Donald marches on.