Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump

As bad as Trump is for the country, there are two groups that I hold more responsible for what is going on now. Those two groups are the Congressional Republicans and conservative media that are basically supporting Trump. I want to start with a quote from a New York Magazine: article by Jonathan Chait (emphasis added)

One of the oddities of the moment is that Republican officials who work closely with Trump almost uniformly regard him as wildly unfit for office. Trump’s gross unsuitability for office is the subtext of the constant stream of leaks that have emanated from his administration (and, before that, his campaign). James Comey told associates he found the president “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy,” reported the New York Times recently. A Republican close to the White House told the Washington Post Trump is “in the grip of some kind of paranoid delusion.” A friend of Trump, trying to spin the latest debacle in the most forgiving way, tells Politico, “He doesn’t really know any boundaries. He doesn’t think in those terms … He doesn’t sometimes realize the implications of what he’s saying. I don’t think it was his intention in any way to share any classified information. He wouldn’t want to do that.” (This was offered as an alternative to the suspicion that Trump is deliberately undermining U.S. intelligence to benefit his Russian friends.)

And yet, outside the inner circle of Republicans with access to the commander-in-chief, Trump’s popularity remains respectable, even solid. The conservative base is largely unaware of the constant revelations of Trump’s gross incompetence, or has been trained to ignore them as propaganda emanating from the administration’s enemies in the deep state or the liberal media. In red America, Trump remains a hero at best, and a competent, normal president at worst.

There are two sentences that say everything to me: “…Republican officials who work closely with Trump almost uniformly regard him as wildly unfit for office” and “The conservative base is largely unaware of the constant revelations of Trump’s gross incompetence, or has been trained to ignore them as propaganda emanating from the administration’s enemies in the deep state or the liberal media.” The truth is that the Republicans who are in the know realize that Trump is wildly unfit, but they will keep this quiet, refusing to tell the conservative base. What’s worse is that you conservative media promoting the idea that the problem is really with liberally biased media or leakers from the deep state. The President poses a threat to the country, and possibly the world, in multiple ways. Congressional Republicans have the power to do something, but they do nothing–just for a chance to enact their tax cuts and other pet policies, and those in the conservative media that push the narrative above. Party and profits over country. Is it me, or is this not outrageous?

Here’s what makes the GOP failure even more egregious in my mind. Right now, I really do believe that the country is divided and vulnerable because of an eroding trust in politicians and democratic institutions. Russia is attempting to exacerbate and exploit these vulnerabilities–and they’ve been effective. If the Republicans were patriotic, standing up for principles and norms–they could push back against Trump, and try to bring the conservative base along with them, in a way that could unify our country and really turn the tables on the Russians. Not all of their base would follow them, and this would take considerable courage on the part of Republicans, but some conservative voters would go along–and the move would be the right, patriotic thing to do–something we really need right now in m view. As long as the Congressional Republicans and conservative media give cover to Trump, we’re vulnerable in so many ways, and I think we will remain polarized. The Republicans and conservative media (and there are some who have been speaking truthfully) have to speak out about Trump’s problems. Democrats speaking out aren’t sufficient, because the conservative side of the country will dismiss them. Our chance of unifying depends on Republicans and prominent individuals in the conservative media. What they’re doing now is the opposite of what we need, and they’re putting our country at risk.

Edit (5/17/2017)

Examples of why I’m disgusted with Congressional GOP:

Edit (5/24/2017)

More examples:

From WaPo. This article features journalists asking a simple question to Congressional Republicans: do you trust President Trump’s judgment? Few give straight answers to this, which is damning by itself.

10 Responses to “Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump”

  1. Reid

    The message in this National Review article by Kevin Williamson is one that I’m hoping other conservatives would trumpet loudly and in unison.

    The Associated Press has bias problems and some notable competency problems, and, like any organization that does any substantive reporting, it makes errors. But it does not, for the most part, traffic in fiction. Neither does the New York Times. Neither does the Washington Post. Neither does the Wall Street Journal….

    …Newspapers, like all the works of men, are imperfect things, and the nation’s newspaper editors and television-news producers are very much at fault for the low general level of trust in the media. But they do not traffic wholesale in fiction. All of the cries of “fake news!” in the world are not going to change that.

  2. Reid

    From WaPo, a transcript of a recorded conversation between GOP leaders, Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

    This the transcript where McCarthy says that he thinks Putin is paying Trump and (Representative) Rohabacher. But what stands out in this interview for me is that Ryan and Rodgers do seem to understand, at least to some degree, the threat of Russian propaganda–and maybe even hyper-warfare. On some level, it’s reassuring to hear this from politicians, but, on another level, I find this troubling–because these Republicans continue to support Trump. If they know about Russian disinformation/propaganda, etc., they should also know that Trump is actually using Russian propaganda, wittingly or not; they know that Russians have paid populists in other countries like Ukraine to tear those countries a part. This should make them want to get to the bottom of all the ties between Trump and Russia, including possible financial ties. They’re acting like what the Russians are doing in Ukraine and other countries the Russians can’t do here. They’re not acting like how I would expect if they are a) patriotic; b) understand Russian threat as they seem to in the transcript.

    I’d like to think that I’m wrong somewhere–either I’m missing information, or maybe they don’t really understand the Russian threat in the same way I do.

  3. Reid

    From the Borowitz Report: Paul Ryan Sets Google News Alert for the Moment When Trump Becomes Unpopular Enough to Betray

    Edit (6/5/2017)

    To read later: Trump National Security Team Blindsided by NATO Speech

    Yep, and the Republicans are the ones that can put an end to the experiment. But they’re not.

  4. Reid

    I don’t know who Matt Glassman is, but I suspect he’s a conservative/Republican. He has a tweetstorm, I want to comment on (Note: I removed numbers that Glassman used to order his tweets and I added paragraphs to make it easier to read.):

    Here’s some cold water DC cynic truth for you about the Comey hearings. In a goddam tweetstorm no less. There’s no *substantive* reason to argue about things like the legal standards of obstruction of justice or similar minutiae. And that’s because this whole thing is 99.9% a political issue. Yes, people could go to jail and there could be criminal charges. But as it relates to POTUS, it’s almost entirely a political question. Did POTUS behave improperly, abuse his power, or attempt to political manipulate the system to hide his or others wrongdoings? The point of the Comey hearings, thus, is for Congress and the public to learn the facts, to make a political judgement. Any argument as to legal standards is merely an instrumental case for trying to move either public or congressional opinion.

    Totally with him so far.

    Why brings us to congressional opinion. I’ve had it with the liberals who are aghast that a majority party hasn’t ripped out their own POTUS 140 days in. The congressional GOP isn’t “doing nothing.” They have set up an investigation of their own POTUS during his first 100 days! They are making public statements of barely tepid support. Not acting as surrogates. Signaling disbelief. Talking grim off the record. And they are supporting an independent counsel investigation. This is so far from nothing that it makes my head spin.

    I feel compelled to respond to this, and this is probably the main reason I’m writing about this tweetstorm. Glassman makes some valid points–the GOP is investigating the Trump administration, but this is because there are so many red flags and Trump, himself, is only making matters worse, that the GOP Congress would have great difficulty not investigating the administration. Consider also what the investigations would be like if Hillary Clinton were in Trump’s shoes now. How much faster would investigations be moving? In relation to this question, think of Republicans like Devin Nunes and Jason Chafetz–how they’ve been behaving with Trump versus how they’d likely behave if Clinton won.

    What Glassman fails to account for, in my opinion, is just how bad Trump is. His key adviser is a white nationalist. He has crazy conflict of interests issues. He is extremely ignorant, incompetent and unfit. The Congressional GOP has a hard time saying whether they trust Trump or not. How can that be?

    And yet, you shouldn’t expect them to totally turn on Trump anytime soon. This isn’t West Wing. No party is going to sink it’s own POTUS until doing so becomes less costly than keeping him. And doing so has very high costs: for individual Members, for the party brand, for the party agenda.

    This is valid observation and I do recognize the high costs for Congressional Republicans–unless Trump becomes more unpopular among Republican voters. However, again, I think Glassman underestimates how bad Trump really is. (More on this later.)

    So what costs could outweigh that? Certainly re-election. If Trump scandals begin to imperil even safe seats, look out below. Possibly a threatened agenda. If Trump scandals make any hope of policy advancement moot, you might get some action. And maybe national security. If absent electoral/policy cost, Members learned POTUS was true security threat, could do it.

    Let’s stop here and ask a question: what more do the GOP need to conclude that the POTUS is true national security threat? He gave critical information to Russian officials, whom he let into the White House without proper vetting–possibly doing serious damage to our intelligence sharing with key allies. Perhaps, he didn’t do serious damage–and maybe the information wasn’t that critical. If it is, though, I would think this would come close to proving that he’s threat to national security. But that’s not all: add–using an insecure smart phone; viewing classified info in an unsecure setting at Mar-a-Lago. See also comments from people who work with him–about not following guidelines and advice.)

    But don’t hold your breath for any of this. Until public opinion moves another 10 points against Trump—into Bush Katrina territory—the electoral fate looks bad but murky. And proof of a true policy drag take a long time. And conspiracy theories aside, Trump FP looks more terrible than sinister.

    I disagree about Trump’s foreign policy. For Trump’s foreign policy to be merely bad, the burden is on him to provide a plausible, benign reason for Trump’s pro-Russia position–a position that weakens the U.S.

    Also, my question would be: why isn’t terrible sufficient to really oppose him, especially if terrible foreign policy means significant damage to national and global security and economic well-being?

    But, again, this is politics. The legal standard only matters to the degree it affects public opinion or congressional opinion. So by all means make a legal case. But remember you’re really making a political one. And any Member from a district that approves of trump 60% right now is thinking politically too. And honestly, unless crimes are truly treasonous or dangerous to national security, I don’t really want those Members playing trustee.

    I mostly agree, but I think the former is a possibility and the latter is already a legitimate issue.

    So my guess? POTUS muddles through to the 2018 election, no sweat. We’ll have more signals then. But I don’t think system is broken. Trump is testing the institutions, and despite your impatience, IMO institutions are winning.

    He’s too sanguine about the institutions. One terrorist attack on U.S. soil can change everything–making the strong institutions weak in a heartbeat.

    Also, the argument that the system isn’t weak–but doing fine–is not a substantive as he thinks, in my opinion. Trump is bad and dangerous in an abnormal way, and the Republicans, while conducting investigations, are, on balance, not really fulfilling their responsibilities as a check on executive power as they should be.

  5. Reid

    I totally agree with Greg Sargent from WaPo: The Latest Republican Defense of Trump is Built on a Massive Lie

  6. Reid

  7. Reid

    I think this is disturbing, irresponsible, and reprehensible

    This not the way the POTUS, any POTUS, should be talking. There is a legitimate and responsible way to express criticism and disagreement–this is definitely not the way. This is a way you divide our country, not bring us together. This is the kind of rhetoric that can lead to violence. If I’m Putin (and other autocrats), I’m loving this. This is how Russia will get away with what they did, and how they can continue getting away with what they did.

  8. Reid

    More on Why I Really Dislike Mitch McConnell

    From James Fallows, Atlantic journalist:

    From Greg Sargent of WaPo:

    The new reporting is also cause to revisit the posture of Republican lawmakers toward the Russian meddling efforts during the 2016 election. As The Post has reported, Obama administration officials privately asked senior congressional officials in both parties to show a united front against Russian sabotage, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refused, claiming (in The Post’s words) that “he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.”

    Former CIA director John Brennan has delivered new public remarks about this that deserve attention. Brennan told “Frontline” the following about this meeting:

    “In those briefings of Congress, some of the individuals expressed concern that this was motivated by partisan interests on the part of the [Obama] administration. And I took offense to that. I told them that this is an intelligence assessment; that this is an intelligence matter.”

    The key here is that we don’t know just how extensive a case for Russian meddling was presented to these lawmakers. It is plausible that it was quite extensive. And as Brennan notes, it was backed up by U.S. intelligence and represented a request for a non-partisan, bi-partisan response. Yet McConnell killed this effort at bi-partisanship by claiming he would cast any public warnings as “partisan.

    This is vile. McConnell is a Republican, not an American.

  9. Reid

    Tweetstorm from Senator Harry Reid’s Deputy Chief of Staff on Senator McConnell (relating to the way McConnell has run the Senate, specifically relating to the health care bill).

    If this tweetstorm is accurate, McConnell comes across as a power-hungry, tyrant.


    In more positive news…from BuzzFeed: Top Republicans Aren’t Signing Up for Trump’s War on the Media

    I only skimmed this, but it has a bunch of Congressional Republicans saying positive things about the press, rather than attacking it. That’s really important. I hope this gets more coverage.

  10. Reid

    John Boehner Seems to Agree With This

    From WaPo: John Boehnder Says He Told Sean Hannity You’re Nuts, which draws heavily from this Politico article.

    Boehner worries about the deepening fissures in American society. But he sees Trump as more of a symptom than the cause of what is a longer arc of social and ideological alienation, fueled by talk radio and Fox News on the right and MSNBC and social media on the left. “People thought in ’09, ’10, ’11, that the country couldn’t be divided more. And you go back to Obama’s campaign in 2008, you know, he was talking about the divide and healing the country and all of that. And some would argue on the right that he did more to divide the country than to unite it. I kind of reject that notion.” Why is that? “Because it wasn’t him!” Boehner replies. “It was modern-day media, and social media, that kept pushing people further right and further left. People started to figure out … they could choose where to get their news. And so what do people do? They choose places they agree with, reinforcing the divide.”

    (emphasis added)

    (I didn’t read the entire Politico article, but it’s based on 18 hours of interviews with Boehner, who speaks candidly about his time in office. Seems like it’s worth a read.)

    Edit (10/31/2017)

    From CNN: ‘I want to quit’: Fox News employees say their network’s Russia coverage was ‘an embarrassment’

    Edit (11/2/2017)

    From Vanity Fair: A series of virulent anti-Mueller editorials has reporters worried about their paper’s credibility.

    Wall Street Journal reporters, that is.

    As another (WSJ) reporter told me, “We could disprove half the stuff” the opinion writers “are saying if they just read our own reporting. It’s like living in some alternate universe.”

    Edit (11/2/2017)

    From WaPo: Fox News Smears Jake Tapper Because of Ratings?

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