I don’t know how it started, but for as long as I can remember RINOs (Republicans In Name Only – pronounced like “rhino”) has been used to describe moderate/liberal members of the GOP. It was an insult leveled primarily by hardcore conservatives against Republicans who would shirk from their professed beliefs when it came time to cast an unpopular vote. Unlike rhinos, RINOs are in no danger of going extinct.
I was a Republican long before I was a conservative. Heck, I was a Republican well before I could even vote. When I was a young child, I was asked some questions about the president that went like this:
Q: Where does the president live?
Me: In the White House.
Q: And what is the president’s job?
Me: To keep the Democrats out of the building.
As a little kid, I didn’t really understand all the policy implications of tax cuts, deregulation, or building up the military, but I knew Democrats shouldn’t be in power.
Much latter in life I started thinking about why that is; why is it better for Republicans to run the government, not Democrats. That’s when I truly became a conservative.
King Pyrrhus was a Greek general who fought the emerging Roman Empire from 280 BC to 275 BC. King Pyrrhus won stunning victories against the Romans, but at a heavy price. When he was congratulated for another such victory at the Battle is Asculum, King Pyrrhus quipped “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”
I think about that retort when viewing many of the political battles fought today.
The controversy over football players kneeling during the National Anthem has waned, and Trump is being declared the victor. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell published a letter saying everyone should stand for the anthem and the league suddenly discovered bylaws requiring players to do so or face fines. All in all, it seems like a pretty clear win for Trump, and Rich Lowry explains why in Politico:
It is true that, after Trump got involved, the polling on the protests began to show the public more evenly divided. If you’re Donald Trump and at 40 percent or below in the polls, though, a 50/50 issue works for you. If you are the NFL and hope to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, a 50/50 issue is a disaster for you.
I think this assessment is fairly accurate, but incomplete. Trump won, but the NFL was not the only loser.
I think an important point needs to be made. Yes, antifa are violent thugs who purposefully hurt innocent people to make a political point. They should be condemned by everyone, and the people comparing them to WWII vets are insulting the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy.
The problem with Trump’s statement yesterday is not that antifa are the good guys; they’re not. The problem is that that is not the issue at hand. There is a time and place to condemn antifa, and it is not after a white supremacist murders a woman.
There were people wearing MAGA hats mixed in with those waving swastika flags and chanting racist slogans. The organizers of the rally publicly claim Trump as an ally. The country needed to hear the president disavow any association with those who idolize America’s greatest sin or our greatest enemy. Instead he claimed many of those on the side with swastikas were “very fine people.” This completely nullifies earlier statements that did condemn racist groups because it convinces white supremacists that when he disavows them he is just saying what is expected of him but does not mean it.
Whatever you think Trump believes in his heart, the scum who look up to Hitler believe he supports them. Trump’s statement yesterday only reinforced that belief and emboldened them. That is why yesterday’s press conference was so horrifying. That is why Trump cannot be trusted.
As big promises continue to go unfilled, some people have started blaming Trump for governmental inaction. They say Obamacare repeal has not passed because instead of giving speeches and holding rallies to sell the bill to the American people, Trump instead spent his time golfing and insulting morning cable news hosts over Twitter. Others say Trump damaged chances to pass a repeal bill by constantly alternating between championing the bill, calling it “mean,” saying we need to pass it now, and saying Congress should do nothing until Obamacare fails on its own.
They also say there has not even been a proposal made for tax reform, building a wall on the southern border, and many other important issues due to what they call Trump’s short attention span and ignorance of details and the basic functioning of the Federal Government.
Some even question the billionaire’s management skills. They point to Trump’s statements that he would hire the best people, and yet there is a steady stream of senior level government officials either quitting or being fired so early in the administration. Did he not hire the best people like he promised, they ask, or his he now firing the best people and hiring people who are not as good?
I understand the urge to mock Trump for his failures. After all, he did say it would be easy and bragged about how much winning he would have. He said only he could fix it, and the failures of previous leaders proved they were stupid. It might be tempting to turn those words around and use them against Trump.
But we have to recognize that being president is harder than anyone could have known. Making deals is an art, not a science. It is not something you can learn by just reading a book.
Any day now, Trump will use the vast swath of goodwill he has stored up with Congressional Republicans. All the time he has spent talking with and supporting senators will pay off when he calls in the favors he’s built up. He can do this because he’s smart. He knew that if he routinely insulted legislators he needs support from it could backfire in critical moments. That’s why he would never do something so idiotic as to threaten to withhold Interior Department funding from the senator who chairs the subcommittee that appropriates funding for the Interior Department. Those are self inflicted wounds the stupid politicians of the past might have been unable to avoid, but a genius businessman like Trump would never fall for it.
Yes, Trump made big promises and has accomplished almost nothing. Yes, Trump repeatedly bragged about his brilliance and skill, and is now fairing worse than those he called stupid. But his failure to do what he promised or even show much interest in it does not make him a failure.
Republicans who supported Trump in the primary might be rethinking their position now, wondering if they made the right decision. Don’t! It was impossible to know back then that an inexperienced reality TV show host with a history of liberal positions, bankruptcies, and investigations for fraud could be anything other than a great president.
Besides, who else were you going to support? Rubio? Cruz? Walker? Perry? Jindal? What are the odds that a Senator or Governor with a proven record of conservatism and understanding of government would have done any better?
Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame Trump. The real problem are those weak kneed Republicans who refused to support the bill Trump said is mean and shouldn’t be passed. Congressional Republicans are clearly sabotaging Trump’s administration and making him fire his National Security Adviser, FBI Director, Chief of Staff, etc. less than half a year into his administration. If you want to know why White House staffers are constantly leaking to the press or publicly feuding with each other, look no further than Ryan and McConnell. It’s their fault. All of it. Trump is a genius. Or so I’m told.
Looking at the country’s reaction to the accusations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, I’m reminded of a scene from one of America’s great cinematic classics: The Boondock Saints.
In the NSFW scene, Rocco bursts into the apartment, wildly and uncontrollably flailing around trying to escape danger but accomplishing nothing more than creating chaos. The MacManus brothers don’t seem to believe there is any danger. Daryl doesn’t even have his crossbow nearby. As the brothers tell Rocco to calm down, he turns and yells “you start getting excited!”
In the last week, the news has been dominated first by Trump firing FBI Director Comey, then by reports that Trump gave classified information to Russia that could harm a US ally. These are both very important stories, but while the media has been focused almost entirely on these two events, we should consider what else has and has not happened.