It’s Not Politics: It’s Morality

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post. Her column on July 31st was a scathing analysis of Donald Trump and the political and moral challenge his candidacy poses to the GOP.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana (R) knew what they were getting into when they climbed aboard the Donald Trump bandwagon. They had watched him insult minorities, POWs, the disabled and women. They had seen for themselves how utterly ignorant he was about basic policy concepts. They knew he lied about big and small things (e.g., falsely saying he opposed the Iraq War, reneging on charity pledges until shamed by The Post). They knew he’d stiffed and swindled Trump U students. They never should have backed him; they were abetting a vile individual attaining the country’s most powerful office, for which he was patently unfit. Pence went a step further in agreeing to be his running mate, and now travels around the country cheerleading for Trump.

Rubin recounted the now-ubiquitous details of Trump’s attack on the Kahns–a Muslim Gold Star family–and notes in passing that it would be political karma if, after smearing all Muslims, his attack on these particular Muslims was the “bridge too far” that ultimately brought him down.

Rubin’s column wasn’t written to add to the mounting recognition of the danger Trump poses for America, however. It was a challenge to the Republicans who continue to support and enable him.

What does Pence, father of  Marine 2nd Lt. Michael J. Pence, do? He directs the press wanting comment to Trump. Really, that’s it? One wonders how 2nd Lt. Pence — and all the other Americans risking their lives — feel about that. Pence’s silence and continued presence on the ticket suggest he considers Trump within the bounds of normal political discourse. If Pence had a modicum of dignity or decency, he would tell the American people, “I made a terrible mistake. Mr Trump is so morally bankrupt and of such shabby character that I could not possibly serve with him.” Failing to do so, the same should be said of Pence….

The offices of Ryan and McConnell wouldn’t comment on Trump’s slur against Ghazala Khan or ludicrous claim he’s “sacrificed” just as the Khans have. Their spokesmen would only repeat the bosses’ prior remarks on Trump’s Muslim stances. That’s not the point. They know this but they are abdicating moral leadership because they cannot possibly justify their support of Trump. In their silence, they condone Trump and stand with him.

Rubin is unimpressed with the excuse that other Republican candidates find themselves in a difficult bind, unwilling to incur the hostility of Trump’s supporters by distancing themselves from his repugnant accusations.

Republicans who fell in line behind Trump cannot escape the moral stench he emits. He disrespects parents of a fallen warrior; they do as well with their silence. He attacks other Americans, lies habitually and embodies none of the qualities we expect of elected leaders; they demonstrate moral and political cowardice in refusing to condemn him.

At the end of the day, Rubin–and the many other Republicans who have publicly refused to support the GOP nominee–is making a moral argument. For moral individuals, love of country, concern for civility and fair play, and simple intellectual honesty should take precedence over partisan loyalty.

Paul Krugman recently made the same point.

The real sinners here are Republican leaders — people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell — who are actively supporting a candidate whom they know poses a danger to the nation. It’s not hard to see why they’re doing this. Opposing their party’s nominee, no matter how awful he is, would probably end up being a career killer.

But there are times when you’re supposed to put such considerations aside. The willingness of some people who know better to support Donald Trump is understandable; it’s also despicable.

And these columns were written before Trump suggested that “2nd Amendment people” could “take care” of Hillary.


  1. Hatred is a part of human existence. A particular form of hatred has festered in this country since before 1776. Chattel slavery has left a mark on this country for millennia. (I have a point here—please be patient.) When slavery formally ended in the 1860s, the great majority of white southerners, it would appear from voting patterns, blamed the Republican Party and gave the Democratic Party the “solid south” for about a hundred years. In the 1960s, a Democratic Party President—LBJ, not JFK—reversed policy stands of the Democratic Party and pushed through Federal statutes to advance the cause of civil rights. In 1968, various members of the Republican Party saw the George Wallace phenomenon and ways in which the “solid south” no longer was so “solid.” Thus was born the “southern strategy ,” whereby the Republican Party courted those individuals, one would infer individuals who formerly made the South so “solid,” disaffected by the Democratic Party’s move to foster civil rights. This hatred seems to appear in the anger expressed now at Trump rallies, and formerly at Wallace rallies. Malcolm X once said (or wrote) that violence is as American as cherry pie. We have to recognize the imprint that slavery still has. Once Lee Atwater’s strategy was put in full play, this was inevitable. The effort was to stir up people and encourage them to, well, hate. The effort should be, instead, to say calm down and work out our problems.

  2. Sheila: “And these columns were written before Trump suggested that “2nd Amendment people” could “take care” of Hillary.”

    When will we finally be honest about this stinking mess? I’m afraid it will be when it’s too late. When do we stop kidding ourselves? This is much more than about morality, it’s about white supremacy. And that’s why very few Republicans are getting off the “train ride” now led by Conductor Donald Trump and his Fireman Mike Pence. Believe me, they’ve got plenty of COAL (anti-Semitism and racism) left and Mike Pence was nominated to be Vice President because of his background to rapidly shove it into the engine for the Conductor Donald Trump.

  3. I finally had to leave “Morning Joe” on MSNBC because my nausea level was rising and my gag reflex hasn’t been in good working order recently. Fear and obsession with this country being destroyed before my eyes by a fool and beig aided and abetted by the GOP and heads of Congress has become a health hazard.

    Finding this blog supports my belief that I am not imagining all of these Donald Trump horrors and am not alone in my beliefs that he is fully supported by formerly intelligent, humanitarian Americans, even if I disagree with their views and their total lack of action in Congress. One of the guests on “Morning Joe” explained this phenomena very simply – “Donald is always going to be Donald!” So; now we know why Ryan and McConnell continue their unfailing support and why Mike Pence (good riddance for the state of Indiana) jumped on the bandwagon.

    “The real sinners here are Republican leaders — people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell — who are actively supporting a candidate whom they know poses a danger to the nation. It’s not hard to see why they’re doing this. Opposing their party’s nominee, no matter how awful he is, would probably end up being a career killer.”

    “Donald is always going to be Donald!”

  4. Jennifer Rubin still sounds like a FOOL. Paul Krugman was one up until a few years ago when he finally found WHITE SUPREMACY. Don’t expect the Republicans to stop the TRAIN RIDE. They’ve been on it for over 45 years.

    There are many railroad lines. Probably, the most important is the DAL, JAX, INDY better known as the DEVIL’S TRIANGLE ROUTE.

  5. Coming Attraction:


    Starring: Donald Trump as the Conductor &
    Mike Pence as the Fireman

    Tickets are free. Do you want to be the only person to miss the monstrous train wreck in the final scene of the movie?

  6. You reap what you sow! Mark Small – I could t agree with you more. Have you read “The New Jim Crow?”

  7. If Hillary Clinton is elected president, then she gets to nominate people for Supreme Court openings. If those nominees are confirmed, then those judges serve for life, and then “there is nothing you can do”. The logic class I took forty-six years ago says this is logically correct. So how can one conclude that Trump’s comment about Second Amendment people mean anything other than they can shoot her to take care of the ‘problem’?
    My second question is: why isn’t anyone in the news media doing the same analysis rather than reporting robotically on the back and forth? Never mind. I know the answer to that question. Most news media sources are just as screwed up as our politicians.

  8. Pence, Ryan and McConnell are shameless prostitutes who are willing to sell themselves ( body and soul) for positions of power.

    There are many politicians on both sides of the aisle that have prostituted themselves out for decades, but supporting a lunatic like Trump has taken it to a level never before seen.

    Shame on Dan Coats too for supporting Trump. Like Jennifer Rubin wrote, leaders supporting Trump are concerned about maintaining Republican control and personal power, no matter what the cost will be to our country.

  9. Paul,

    “Never mind. I know the answer to that question. Most news media sources are just as screwed up as our politicians.”

    Probably more so.

  10. Paul and Marv; the media is aware of the same analysis but, they do not report the obvious for the same reason Ryan, McConnell, Pence and the entire GOP continue supporting Trump and Pence…to keep their jobs.

  11. “Opposing their party’s nominee, no matter how awful he is, would probably end up being a career killer.” This statement says more about the members of the Republican Party than about Ryan, McConnel, and Pence. What it says is that our fellow citizens who call themselves Republicans do not want and will not tolerate, moral leadership. I’m not buying it. I believe that the majority of Republicans would follow a moral leader… even cheer a moral leader. Unfortunately, at this point, it may well be too late.

  12. One positive outcome for conservatives of the short-fingered vulgarian’s candidacy is that it seems to be awakening some conservative commentators from the dogmatic stupor they’ve been in for the last 8 years. Rubin hasn’t been afraid to pander to the right wing nut-o-sphere in the past, but this column is spot on- couldn’t have put the issue in clearer, starker terms.

    Some high-profile GOP folks have been openly repudiating the s-fv, but usually it’s those with really nothing to lose by doing so. They can afford moral high ground. But the point is, as this blog entry underscores, taking the high ground here isn’t a matter of whether or not you can pay the political price. It’s an imperative, no matter what it costs you. It’s now too late for Ryan, McConnell, Pence, and the rest of the Vichy Republicans to garner any moral redemption by doing what they ought to do, and rejecting their nominee- completely, unconditionally, and unambiguously.

  13. Even w all of the above, there are still locals are sending letters to the editor of the Star extolling Trump’s virtues. If they can support a man like him for president, what does that say about the moral compass or intellectual capacity of 40% of our citizens? How many more election cycles will it take before the stench in Washington and state capitols gets so overwhelming that political adversaries start to demand change of both parties or start alternative third or fourth parties that primarily represent voters, not corporations and can work together to address some of those large issues that really matter?

    Ifear it will take many

  14. Politics over Nation;
    Winning isn’t the most important thing ,
    Winning is the only thing !

    Dam; America and the World, just win, any way, any person, any effort or any amount .

    Yes: all nations will fail, not by wars but by the ignorance of self hated & loathing .

  15. To those currently spinning Mr. Trump’s Second Amendment statement, Henry II claimed that he did not mean that anyone should kill Becket when he asked, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Words do have consequences.

  16. Nancy; I tried twice to access that site, it popped up briefly then a blank screen with a brief “Whoops” message and returned to Sheila’s blog.

  17. No wonder Pence and Ryan stay on the Trumptrain. They failed to show eight years of moral leadership by simply blocking the Obama administration, without a proper and decent program of their own.

  18. The last time I looked, the repeal of an amendment to the Constitution requires an amendment to be passed to do so. Appointing judges has nothing to do with it. Why are the Republicans so adept at building controversy around a non-issue and distracting the attention away from the real problems at hand?

  19. This isn’t hard to understand. Dumb people have difficulty seeing anything beyond the zero sum game. When you live in the most competitive economy in the world and you are mentally outclassed by others, you accept the burden of being a “loser” and all of your worst fears are reinforced by your outcomes. So you can’t imagine the pie getting bigger for everyone, and you fight for the scraps you can steal from your neighbor, and the mutual benefits of cooperation seem like silly fantasy. So of course you believe the laissez-faire B.S of the right, and you choose a yuuuuuge winner to be your leader.

    Now if you are rich (and presumably not stupid or insane) and still supporting the GOP, then you are simply a greedy asshole. And greed includes white supremacy because that is all about keeping the good stuff for yourself.

    So there is your 40%. Dumb white folks and greedy white folks. Which is the EXACT makeup of the Republican Party pre-Trump, so he ain’t no revolution.

  20. Mine eyes have seen the gory of the coming of The Donald,
    He has loosed some porno pictures of the stripper he last fondled.
    He is trampling on his victims with his terrible forked tongue,
    His hate is marching on!

    When the muse strikes, one can only go with it. Especially after a morning of way too much Trump on the tube.

  21. I now very rarely if at all watch or listen to the echo chambers of CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. It seems to usually consist of several “experts” that end up hyping up the story of the day. Then they engage in a free for all of talking or yelling over each other for their air time. Perhaps the best comparison I can make is to a Professional Wrestling Tag Team Match or maybe Jerry Springer.

    I have been watching some programs on past elections and political figures of the past. The programs on LBJ and Goldwater were especially interesting. Although, I lived through the 1960’s watching it through the prism of today it is hard to believe how tumultuous it was. The assassinations of Malcolm X, JFK, MLK, and RFK were unprecedented. Riots and civil disorders in many major cities, the anti-war movement, Black Power Movement, and the war in Vietnam. LBJ choosing not to run in 1968 seems to be a rational choice in retrospect, although at the time it was shocker.

    Goldwater set the stage for the future of the Republican Party, when he said – I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue! – The Goldwater philosophy remained in the Republican DNA. Nixon and Ford tamped it down and the Southern Strategy would be the polite name for join us Jim Crow, you are welcome here.

    Reagan, completed assembling the pieces of the pie, when he added in the ingredients of Bible Thumping, the NRA, and revived a bellicose foreign policy. Right Wing radio emerged taking Goldwater’s words as hallowed words. There would be no retreat or compromise.

    The Republicans this time around have simply selected in Trump-Pence a distillation of all that previously led to this. Consider that Ted Cruz was the runner-up. There is no room for a Jerry Ford.

    Before anyone thinks the Republican Party is in it’s death throes, the Republicans are clearly the dominant political life form in the US Senate, House, and out in the states.

  22. We’ve all held new life and have been bathed in it’s ethereal beauty. Death, at the other end of life, is, well, to be honest, a stinkin’ mess.

    The GOP is on their death bed and already stinkin’.

    They are because the world they prepared for was not chosen by reality. Reality chose progress instead.

    So we must unfortunately step around the corpse and many choose to also avert their eyes.

    Nature handles death as she does birth, miraculously, and soon the present shall have obscured the past and we’ll have new miracles and opportunities to be part of.

    Even as a Republican I feel no regret in its passing. Like many big mistakes the only lasting memory from it will be, hopefully, what we learned.

  23. Thanks, Nancy, got it this time.

    I’m sure Pence knew he had little chance of being reelected; maybe opting to join Trump is one way of publicizing his resume without actually job hunting.

  24. Louie had some interesting points, but the Goldwater quote is one to which I might add some nuance. That part of Goldwater’s acceptance speech, delivered at The Cow Palace in San Francisco in 1964, if not the entire speech was written by Karl Hess. Hess became disenchanted by politics. Eventually he became an anarchist and a tax “resister” (evader). He was a very good welder, and one semester was an artist-in-residence at the University of Illinois. Two classmates of mine at DePauw had worked with him in an impacted area of D.C. during Winter Term (January, in DePauw lingo) a couple of months before. We drove over to Champaign-Urbana to meet with him. Primarily he criticized people in the system for their hypocrisy, shared with us 1950s-era Civil Defense shelter crackers some students in one of his classes had “liberated” from tunnels under the campus, and shared with us mottos such as “Don’t Vote, It Only Encourages Them.” I don’t know if he was paid at U of I for that semester. As I understood matters, there was a tax lien against anything he might be paid, and so he existed by barter. He seemed quite charming. I did not notice he rejected use of any of the roadways in the area. He seemed to find the University’s facilities to his liking.

  25. Rubin is half right. It’s about politics AND morality. At one point in time they were joined at the hip, then the Kochs and other money monsters in the libertarian mob got into the act following Powell’s infamous memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s president, and 40 years of union-busting and stagnated wages later here we sit with Citizens United, a psychotic candidate for president, an underperforming economy and a historically high Dow. Figures. We need reform of both parties.

  26. Many people do not appreciate the problem that the GOP has. Simply put there is nothing positive that can be said of or by them. Nothing.

    They either must be completely silent or attack all alternatives to them.

  27. We also need to be remindful of cause and effect. The dying GOP is symptom. The disease is Neoliberalism, or as it was formerly called, oligarchy.

    It is fully capable of pulling back and mutating. In fact one can safely say that it will. Don the con and the GOP are expendable tools.

    Fortunately we can continue the war against Neolibralism by finishing off its main funding source fossil fuels.

  28. Jenny is against Trump for one reason, and one reason only – she doesn’t trust him to put Israel’s interests above those of the U.S. It’s so simple that even she can see it.

  29. Indygaffer – you are correct except –
    The “conservative” court overturned two centuries of precedent, ignored half of the second amendment to declare the right to bear arms as an individual right. Clinton could potentially appoint justices that would pay heed to all of those words about well regulated militias and return to the previous interpretation.

    While many tea party Republicans don’t know it, they keep reading the abridged and “corrected” version of the Constitution. Their copy deleted all of unnecessary language about well regulated mitilias.

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