Most of us accept that we’ll finish with thrills or agony, whenever engaging in competition: sports, spelling bees – and political campaigns. Somebody wins, somebody loses. We try to be gracious, win or lose. We value sportsmanship, agreeing character is important. We teach our kids, “don’t be sore losers”.
Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
– Billy Graham
A new parlor game, watching President Trump’s enablers twist themselves into pretzels defending him. The new GOP moniker: The Grand Old Pretzel!
Most Republicans won’t answer a simple question: should a President pressure foreign leaders to influence our elections by investigating political rivals?
Instead, they twist themselves into pretzels by:
• Denying there was a quid pro quo (“a favor given in return for something”) between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky when Trump asked him to investigate presidential opponent Joe Biden and his son. Trump withheld $400 million in military assistance and cancelled a Ukraine visit by VP Pence until Zelensky promised to investigate them.
• Admitting there WAS a quid pro quo, but demand we should “get over it”. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney did – then “clarified” it the next day.
• Asserting Trump was only rooting out corruption in Ukraine and did nothing wrong. When asked to name another country Trump pressured to investigate corruption that did NOT involve a political rival, they can’t.
• Claiming, as one columnist did, that Trump “…has not politicized the apparatus of government and used it for political purposes.” He faces an impeachment inquiry for doing just that, enlisting Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, Energy Secretary Perry, and personal attorney Giuliani to pressure Ukraine. Another new parlor game: guessing which one(s) Trump will throw under the bus to save himself.
• Insisting (with a straight face) that Trump didn’t really mean it when he publicly encouraged China to investigate the Bidens. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) blustered he was just joking and annoying the press. Nice try.
• Blaming everything on the “Deep State”: a conspiracy theory positing that powerful Federal bureaucrats have long subverted Trump and Republicans in their crusade to save America. But America had two terms under Republican President Bush, two terms under Democratic President Obama, now three years under Republican Trump. Could this secret layer have survived Democratic AND Republican eras? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Stewart’s recent book Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law completely debunks that myth, showing no evidence exists of such a conspiracy at the FBI, CIA, or other Federal agencies.
• Changing the subject and rehashing the 2016 campaign, misrepresenting the Mueller report as completely exonerating Trump, and claiming he’s investigating corruption that attempted to defeat him – although documented Russian interference helped HIM get elected.
• Dodging the question entirely. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) waffled when asked about Trump’s Ukraine and China overtures. Ernst stammered, “I don’t know that we have that information in front of us” (although Trump publicly enlisted China on the White House lawn). Gardner muttered “it’s an answer that you get from a very serious investigation”.
One Republican who doesn’t twist himself into pretzels defending Trump is Trump himself. He touted his “great and unmatched wisdom” in betraying Kurdish allies and himself as “the chosen one” when starting a trade war with China. The Dear Leader of our cult does not twist – but he sure does shout.
Twist and shout: the new strategy of the rebranded GOP. Welcome to the Grand Old Pretzel!