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GOP Gets What It Deserves With Trump

Republican establishment figures are feigning surprise over their nominee’s racism, misogyny, narcissism and contempt for the rule of law, but they are being disingenuous. They’ve known for years the sort of man Donald Trump is. And they welcomed him and his money.

Now that the contemptible Trump is the titular head of the GOP, he threatens to destroy it — to so taint the party of Abraham Lincoln that it will never again appeal to a majority of American voters. That’s especially true of voters of color, most of whom Trump has treated to an egregious litany of contempt. But it’s also true of women, upward of 70 percent of whom regard Trump unfavorably, according to recent polls.

Even now, though, most leading Republicans lack the moral courage to reject him as a possible president of the United States. Despite their earlier criticisms of the celebrity TV host, they’ve fallen in line behind him.

The hypocrisy has been cringe-inducing, the gravity-defying reversals revolting. During the Republican primaries, Marco Rubio called Trump a “con artist” and predicted that having Trump as the nominee would “shatter and fracture the Republican Party and the conservative movement.” You may recall that Chris Christie, who joined Trump’s claque ahead of the stampede, once dismissed the real estate mogul’s lack of preparation for office with this dead-on critique: “Showtime is over. … We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief.” Lindsey Graham characterized Trump, accurately, as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”

At least Graham has had the decency to suggest that his fellow Republicans reconsider their support for Trump. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has done just that, rescinding his earlier endorsement and saying that Trump “does not have the temperament” to be president. That may not hold up in the history books as the sort of stinging rebuke that Joseph Welch issued to Joe McCarthy — “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” — but it has gained attention because it goes against the grain.

Most leading Republicans are hanging on, claiming that a President Trump would be better than his rival, Hillary Clinton. That’s true, apparently, even if he’s a racist who would upend the Constitution, ban Muslims, berate and intimidate judges and mock people with disabilities.

Perhaps the most embarrassing case of spinelessness is that of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has long been touted as the party’s best hope for a youthful rejuvenation. Ryan rightly called out Trump for his awful smear of a sitting federal judge, characterizing it as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

So did Ryan then turn his back on Trump and suggest Republican voters do the same? Oh, no. Trump’s remarks were racist, but Ryan is still supporting him.

While this has been dispiriting to watch, it is hardly surprising. The GOP has had Trump-ism in its bloodstream for decades now, and the party’s leaders have nurtured and fueled it. They have pandered to the nativists and xenophobes among the party’s core voters, fueled the paranoia of the anti-government crowd and cozied up to the racists. When President Barack Obama was elected, spurring an intense backlash from racially antagonistic white voters, Republican leaders rushed to surf the waves.

They were silent as conservative talk-radio hosts and pundits mocked and disparaged first lady Michelle Obama, with some, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, insisting that she’s a man in drag. They said nothing as tea partiers mounted protests with ugly signs depicting the president as a witch doctor. They were complicit when the so-called birther movement swept certain corners of the conservative constituency.

And who was one of the leaders of that cult of fringe lunacy that insists that the president was not born in the United States?

Why, a certain Donald Trump was, whipping up a ludicrous idea that was nothing more than an attempt to delegitimize the first black president, to paint him as non-American, to claim he was a usurper to the Oval Office. So there is nothing surprising about Trump’s current views.

Still, it’s discouraging to watch a once-great political party poison itself with the bile of bigotry, even if its members have been sipping from the vial for some time.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks as his daughter Ivanka (L) looks on at a campaign event on the day that several states held presidential primary elections, including California, at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York, U.S., June 7, 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The First Of Many: Sen. Mark Kirk ‘Un-Endorses’ Donald Trump

The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:

Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.

“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s

“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.

Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

Photo: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois speaks to supporters after beating Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias for the Senate seat formally held by U.S. President Barack Obama, at an election night rally in Wheeling, Illinois November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Senate GOP Campaign Deletes Tweet Accusing Disabled Democrat Of ‘Not Standing Up’ For Veterans

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm looks like it needs to watch its language when discussing a top Democratic candidate.

Tuesday afternoon, the National Republican Senatorial Committee tweeted — and, soon after, deleted — the accusation: “Tammy Duckworth has a sad record of not standing up for our veterans.” Duckworth, a congresswoman from Illinois, is challenging incumbent GOP Sen. Mark Kirk.

The problem: Tammy Duckworth is not only a veteran herself, but accusing her of “not standing up for our veterans” is a particularly poor choice of words. Duckworth lost both her legs in Iraq, when the helicopter she was co-piloting was hit by an insurgent’s rocket-propelled grenade. As she has written of the experience: “My right leg was vaporized; my left leg was crushed and shredded against the instrument panel.” Her right arm was also severely injured, though doctors were indeed able to save it.

Jonathan Chait preserved it in this screen grab:

One possible reply to Chait: Hey, this staffer might actually have a bright future working on Donald Trump’s media team.

Photo: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) at the Hyde Park Independence Day Parade, July 4, 2015, via Facebook.

Republican Kirk Breaks With U.S. Senate Leaders On High Court Seat

By Susan Cornwell and Eric Beech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, facing a tough re-election fight in Illinois, said on Monday the Senate should vote on whomever President Barack Obama nominates to the U.S. Supreme Court, breaking with his party’s leadership.

In another defection among Republicans, Senator Susan Collins of Maine called for hearings on the eventual nominee.

A political fight has erupted over filling the court’s vacancy left by the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, with many top Republicans threatening to block any nominee put forth by the Democratic president.

Obama’s nominee could shift the court to the left for the first time in decades.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the seat should remain vacant until Obama’s successor takes office in January so voters can have a say on the selection when they cast ballots in the November presidential election.

Kirk wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece that he recognized the right of any president to choose a Supreme Court nominee and he looked forward to Obama picking one for the Senate to consider for confirmation.

“I also recognize my duty as a senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information,” Kirk added.

Kirk, who holds Obama’s old Senate seat, said he hoped the president would pick a nominee “who can bridge differences, a nominee who finds common ground and a nominee who does not speak or act in the extreme.”

Kirk’s stance illustrates that McConnell may have trouble keeping Senate Republicans fully united over filling Scalia’s seat. Some senators like Kirk are seeking re-election this year in states where Democrats are competitive.

Collins, who is not facing re-election until 2020, said on Monday the Senate had an obligation to hold public hearings on Obama’s nominee.

“The kind of thorough process that a hearing allows is the best way to evaluate a nominee,” Collins told reporters, according to the Hill newspaper.

But it appeared unlikely that enough Republicans would peel away from McConnell to allow a vote on the Senate floor.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Monday it was up to McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to decide whether to hold confirmation hearings.

“I feel like we ought to put it off and get it out of this harsh atmosphere,” Hatch told reporters.

(Reporting by Eric Beech, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)

Photo: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois speaks to supporters after beating Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias for the Senate seat formally held by U.S. President Barack Obama, at an election night rally in Wheeling, Illinois November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes