Deserving Of Contempt

Today, America will inaugurate an actual President. I have hopes for a resurrection of governing.

Biden’s success will rest to a considerable extent on what happens to today’s totally dysfunctional and arguably treasonous GOP, where signs of schism are growing.

Among those signs are two columns written by longtime Republican conservatives–Michael Gerson and George Will. It bears emphasizing that both of these examples were published on January 4th–before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Both are representative of the pre-Trump GOP. In other words, sane. (Although in Will’s case, also irritating and supercilious.)

Michael Gerson was a speechwriter for George W. Bush; he is a committed Christian Evangelical. His column in the Washington Post focused on the leaked telephone call between Trump and Georgia’s Secretary of State–the Republican officeholder who oversaw Georgia’s election. As Gerson says, the great virtue of that recording is that it “clarifies the goals of all concerned.”

And those goals, as he points out, were not to expose abuses in the electoral system. 

Trump intended to pressure the elected official of an American political subdivision to falsify the state’s electoral outcome–to “squeeze out” 11,780 additional votes in his favor– in order to overturn his loss in Georgia.

His cynical, delusional justifications are beside the point. He would say anything — invent any lie, allege any conspiracy, defame any opponent, spread any discredited rumor — to perpetuate his power.

Gerson then turned to Trump’s Congressional enablers.

This, in turn, illuminates the motives of his congressional enablers. In light of Trump’s clarifying call, the term “enablers” now seems too weak. When Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and their GOP colleagues try to disrupt and overturn a free and fair election, they are no longer just allies of a subversive; they become instruments of subversion. They not only help a liar; they become liars. They not only empower conspiracy theories; they join a conspiracy against American democracy. They not only excuse institutional arson; they set fire to the Constitution and dance around the flame.

In the remainder of the column, Gerson excoriated this attack on the constitutional order and pointed out that Republican “populism” ( a nicer word for the GOP’s current Nazification)  is diametrically opposed to actual conservatism and other former Republican beliefs: in law and order, in the U.S. constitutional system, in individual liberty and federalism, in judicial restraint. Worse still,

Anti-constitutional Republicans are teaching, in essence, that partisan and ideological victory is more important than democratic self-government. They may try to dress up their betrayal as fighting against socialism, or against the “deep state,” or against multiculturalism, or against antifa, or against secularists, or for white pride, or for a Christian America. But what they are really saying to their supporters is this: Your anger is more important than our republic. 

Gerson writes that these anti-constitutional Republicans are shredding the work of America’s founders, and deserve nothing but contempt.

For his part, George Will writes that Josh Hawley’s announced intent to challenge certification of the Electoral vote is evidence that Hawley’s conscience “compels him to stroke this erogenous zone of the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominating electorate.”

Hawley’s stance quickly elicited panicky emulation from Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, another 2024 aspirant. Cruz led 10 other senators and senators-elect in a statement that presents their pandering to what terrifies them (their Trumpkin voters) as a judicious determination to assess the “unprecedented allegations” of voting improprieties, “allegations” exceeding “any in our lifetimes.”..

Never mind. Hawley — has there ever been such a high ratio of ambition to accomplishment? — and Cruz have already nimbly begun to monetize their high-mindedness through fundraising appeals.

Will then enumerates what rational Americans all know–that allegations of election fraud are themselves fraudulent. He concludes that the Hawley-Cruz cohort is in violation their oaths of office; despite swearing to defend the Constitution from enemies “foreign and domestic” they have become the most dangerous of those domestic enemies.

Over the past couple of decades, the Republican Party has slowly but steadily lost membership– it has barely managed to retain power through gerrymandering and vote suppression. Public defections of more high-profile Republicans began with Trump’s election and have continued. But the transformation of those who remain in the GOP–their metamorphosis into Trumpers–has also accelerated.

Sane people–including conservatives like Gerson and Will–can only hope that the abomination that is today’s GOP goes the way of the Whigs. It needs to be replaced by an adult, responsible center-right party that understands the importance of negotiation and compromise.

America needs differing perspectives on policy–it doesn’t need existential battles between a political party and a racist cult. 


  1. One of your best analytical columns, Sheila.

    George Will IS supercilious. He ‘s also very smart and a true patriot. But I think the Republican party has always carried that burden of leaning Nazi. Their “small government” mantra is just another corporate smoke screen to allow the fascism inherent in capitalism and among capitalists. They are driven by greed to do whatever it takes to make MORE money, collect MORE power over MORE people and care not a whit about what they destroy in the process.

    The economic model of continuous and accelerating growth in markets for everything is a fool’s errand. When the resources for this growth become scarce, what is Plan “B”? Is anyone planning for that day, or are the GOP psychos just shrugging and working for another quarterly report?

  2. One name in the ongoing saga of the Republican oxymoronic brand of conservatism that too often gets left out in these discussions is Newt Gingrich. HE is the one who came up with the idea of blocking anything and everything that the first Black American President wanted and needed to correct the ills that had resulted in the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and ALL Republicans in both houses of Congress went along with it.
    And that included Republicans who had grown in stature to be honored with the term ‘statesmen’. Sadly, the most heartbreaking case of that was our own Senator Richard Lugar, who had even served as a mentor to President Obama when he had entered the Senate. Not once do I recall him ever breaking ranks and supporting anything that would have helped solve the problems of those years.
    And it just got worse as time passed. Even noted Hoosier Republican party leader and panelist on Indiana Week in Review, Rex Early, jumped on that train and became the Campaigner-in-Chief in Indiana for the Forty-fifth President, and was rewarded with his choosing his Vice-Presidential running mate from Indiana, the Mother of Vice-Presidents.
    The Whigs had been resurrected, to live – and then die – again.

  3. Trump’s “small government” was accomplished by enacting his revolving door policy of Department heads, primarily “acting” level to speed up the changes; firing those who displeased him on any level, those who left to escape breathing the same air as Trump and countless positions never replaced after the transition. The “One Big Thing” reported by Axios on MSNBC was that Joe and Kamala may be concerned with what they find upon entering the White House today. As if they are not smart enough or qualified to have read the four years of flashing neon signs of what will be there and what could be missing.

    Joe and Kamala have been watching the goings-on much more closely than Gerson or Will and from their inside view of the action. They have insight and sources of information from both parties that journalists must depend on “leaks from insiders” to have news to print. There has been no sign of “conservative” government by Republicans since Trump rode down that escalator in 2015 and announced he was running for president. Over the past 20 or more years the GOP has worked toward “small government” by depriving Americans of basic rights, protection under the law at all levels, education, clean air, health care, jobs, homes, food and a livable income. When their peaceful measures didn’t work fast enough; they brought in Trump. The entire GOP is “Deserving Of Contempt” which now seems to be coming from those few within the party who are courageous enough to take a stand against Trump and the GOP. Too bad it took them four years to reach the saturation point of Trumpism and remember they have an Oath of Office to uphold. Have Gerson and Will written columns since the insurrection?

    BREAKING NEWS: Fox and Friends was not reporting on the inauguration this morning; they were interviewing a professor from a NM university who was taking issue with the university’s double standard view on the riots. Two week old news. There was a small insert in the lower right corner of the screen posting the inauguration.

  4. Well done! However, I believe your essay is incomplete without citing the names Indiana’s own GOP House Rep. Jackie Walorski, Rep. Jim Banks and Rep. Jim Baird who all voted to object to the slate of Presidential electors. Sen. Mike Braun was planning to do so until he saw that most Hoosiers didn’t support sedition and he changed his mind. Good for him, but he’s still babbling about election fraud and his heroic stature as a “main st entrepreneur”.

    As for me I will henceforth address my US House Representative IN 3rd as Jim “Crow” Banks. He is a liar, a white-nationalist fake-Christian, and a traitor to our country. Please, don’t ask me to turn down the rhetoric. It’s not rhetoric.

  5. Have you all seen the pardon list? It’s a pantheon of crooks, grifters, fraudsters and otherwise despicable characters. You know, the people just like Trump. Steve Bannon? Really? Yes. THAT Steve Bannon.

    Even to the last minute, Trump is scraping scum.

  6. Yes, Vernon, I did see the list. Four years ago, and during the campaign trail, Trump talked strong man on how he would topple the “Deep State.”

    Yet, the coward didn’t pardon Snowden or force the UK to release the journalist Julian Assange.

    Like all presidents before and after him, he’s a figurehead. When asked by Megan Kelly back in mid-2016 who he wanted to see as POTUS and he eloquently responded, “We don’t really pay attention to the president because he doesn’t dictate actual domestic or foreign policies.”

    She smirked and asked a follow-up to Putin, “You don’t really believe that, do you? The POTUS is the most powerful position in the free world.”

    Putin responded, “Outgoing President Obama promised during his campaigning that he was going to close down Guantomino Bay, and he had eight years to do it. Did he accomplish this campaign promise?”

    Yet, for four years of Trump, Rachel Maddow, the voice of the liberals, clamored about Russian interference in the election when the IC was unable to produce a shred of conclusive evidence. It’s because Russia didn’t interfere. After all, they don’t care. The POTUS is a figurehead.

  7. I believe it was Grover Norquist that said, all a GOP president needs is a working hand to sign bills put on his desk!

    Norquist including the GOP hierarchy, found that in Trump and proceeded to prostrate him and themselves in front of this Man Of Lawlessness to goose him into signing bills that would cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Of course, the individual named Trump was really an insane narcissistic arsonist getting ready to commit crimes against the state that these so-called conservatives never seemed to comprehend.

    Trump played his role well, the GOP got the tax cuts that they were salivating over, unfortunately they couldn’t get Trump to put away his matches! They knew that they needed him to keep nominating white conservative judges to the federal bench, and Trump dutifully followed.

    Of course Trump wasn’t going to be used in that way, his symbiotic desire was to loot the American treasury and boot any norms to the curb. In other words, I did what you wanted and now you’re going to do what I want! The GOP couldn’t control their monster, Allah Dr. Frankenstein!

    Paul Ryan was another one that was full of principles, but principles be damned when it comes to trying to gain power. Whether they believed it or not, they followed the Nazi-esque trek to power. Pre-Trump, George will regularly eviscerated Barack Obama, he claimed in 2013 that Barack Obama’s unconstitutional steps were worse than Richard Nixon’s, LOL! So, George will is not without blame for the manufacture of the GOP’s monster, Donald Trump!

    All of these clowns, including Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and others opened the door for the lunatics from Q anon, and white nationalists, because their scorched earth policies left to the ground fertile for these seeds to sprout and become dominant in the GOP manure pile!

    It was easy to drag religion into the mix, because the conservatives in Europe and the United States always use conservative leaning religious dogma to dehumanize those of African dissent! Because as we know, those churches in Europe and early churches in the United States, claimed that Africans were cursed, and that’s why their skin was black! And that they were the descendants of Canaan because Canaan had sinned and was cast out.

    Unfortunately for these churches, it was not difficult to research Scripture and lineage posted in Scripture and realize that it was the Caucasian race that were the cursed ones, and not those descendants of Kush and Put who were the progenitors of the black race.

    Anyway, I realize speaking of Scripture is to mind bogglingly explosive for some to comprehend, but, you have to understand the reasoning behind, the justification of the seemingly effortless slide into selling humans to other humans. Of course, this was just a way to increase power for the White Wealthy Protestants, after all, the bottom line worked out better when you didn’t have to pay wages, you just had to by the people, black people, as a one-off investment.

    Of course our founders immediately put slave labor to work building the White House and the capital buildings, because their beliefs were the same as their counterparts in Europe. The only individuals that had rights were the “White Protestant Wealthy Landowning Males” and this is what our Constitution is based on!

    Whether you agree with this comment or not is beside the point, because it is the actual history, there is no debate on the subject, the only remedy is to dismantle the Constitution and write a new one! One that assures misconduct by government, and the leaders of that government whether it’s in Congress or the executive branch, can be dealt with harshly when there is unquestionable evidence in that misconduct and subversive activity!

    And, since Donald Trump is in the middle of his 2nd impeachment, any pardons that he’s issued before he leaves office should be null and void, he should not be allowed to pardon anyone until he is cleared of crimes! Unfortunately for Trump, that trial will be after he’s out of office. Right now there is precedent that could be set in government to never allow this type of thing to happen again! The dismantling of the religious right is another important aspect of reform! I just don’t think there’s the will for it.

  8. Today’s language toward those we disagree with is another day to exit the comments here

    “psychos”, “white-nationalist-fake-Christian”, “insane narcissistic arsonist”…And it’s not yet 9 AM here.

    How many BAs, MAs and even doctorates write here?

    And y’all wonder why we have a painful divide driven by hate for “the other”…you are the salt shakers to it.

    Bye, bye for this day. Be back for a a civilized discussion.

  9. Past and present members of the Republican Party still claim that they love law and order. It is striking that they never say they love justice and their version of law and order seems to reinforce that they don’t give a damn about that final aspect of law and order. I would note that the Constitution mentions establishing justice as one of the goals. It should still be our highest aspiration.

  10. Trump’s last sentence in his farewell speech in the YouTube video was, “The movement we started has just started.” Any doubt of the meaning behind that statement? A warning to the country and a message to his personal domestic terrorist groups?

    His last words in his farewell speech before boarding Air Force One was “We will be back in some form.” Another warning and message we should be paying attention to before celebrating his leave taking?

  11. As stated, they go low, we go high. Hateful comments need to stop everywhere and we must heal. That does not mean, those that break the law, must not be prosecuted, but that we prosecute on the merit of the offense. It will be important for Republicans to separate from Trump, as he brings the message of hate, corruption, racism and now a traitor to our country and democracy. We can work together as Republicans and Democrats for a focused goal. It was too easy to lead people astray from long held values, but by the grace of God, Biden and Harris were elected by the will of the people. We also must remember they are mere mortals, that will make mistakes. But with a highly intelligent, competent administration, we will once again, honor God, Country and the Constitution. As the people of the United States, we must make sure they do that.

  12. Come on Lester,

    How many MA’s, BA’s or DR’s actually comment here? What in holy hell does that have to do with anything? just because someone is educated or maybe overly educated doesn’t mean they’re intellectual! Neither doesn’t mean that they are coherent or rational. It just means that they were able to go to school longer. Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught man, and probably one of the smartest presidents that we’ve ever had! So, you pointing towards higher education is extremely flawed. When you call out something, you have to call it like it is and not sugar coat it. And, any of the comments here that you don’t agree with, explain why! Because, you didn’t do a very good job in YOUR comment to the contrary.

    It seems to me that you are being very Neville Chamberlain-esque.

    In the real world, those who attempt sedition, or any subversive activity towards the functioning government that is supposed to be Democratic and free, there should be the severest of penalties imposed! because, we know what happens when that kind of thing is left unchecked! It gave us the first and second world war!

    Was there any kumbaya given to the insurrection and or the victims of it? What about the midnight torch parade in Charlottesville? Is that arson okay? What about the spate of mass shootings before this pandemic started? Was that okay also? Let’s just forgive and forget? It’s all kumbaya now? What about George floyd? Or Brianna Taylor? Or any of the other murdered black Americans that were executed by law enforcement! Well, Lester, if you believe in this sort of kumbaya, I’ve got a nice island chain for sale on the cheap in the middle of the Pacific ocean!..

    Change is painful and change is difficult! It’s not an easy thing to change permissive and systemic racism that permeates to the core of government! And yes, Donald Trump was definitely an insane narcissistic arsonist, who let it be known by the way, that he will be watching and he will be ready and he will be back! So what do you do about that? How about a bonfire and s’mores? Maybe a weenie roast? That seems to work in cartoons doesn’t it?

    Well, what did James coburn say in the the big payback? When his suitcases got shot full of holes, he told Mel Gibson that he was just mean man! Sometimes that’s what you got to be, a little mean! That is, unless you want to get steam rolled over.

  13. John Sorg – WADR – What are we losing…civility, decency..? Now, when they go low…we follow? What’s the upside? What have we accomplished?

  14. Lester,

    When has there been decency in so-called civil discourse? I haven’t seen any at all since maybe way before the Jim Crow era? The KKK, Strom Thurmond, McCarthy, violence against civil rights movements, assassinations, mass shootings promoting ideological issues, hostage crisis, Newt gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and the backlash against Barack Obama, the endless murders of black Americans by law enforcement, I mean, the list is endless!

    And, let’s face it, most of this was driven by white self aggrieved cowards that slowly polluted the national body politik!

    If Martin Luther King or Malcolm x could not accomplish anything by discussion with the result being assassination, the same with Robert kennedy, what do you think kumbaya is going to accomplish today?

    There has to be a different tack.

    Like I said, history is cyclical, it repeats itself constantly sometimes even before the next generation! And, the definition of doing that same thing over and over again is an epitome of ignorance and stupidity.

  15. So tired of the claims of “voter suppression.” Sure, there’s been some effort at that by Republicans, particularly by Trump and his stooges. But there is no evidence it’s been successful. The last four years people have voted at some of the highest rates in history, including minorities voting. Things like being required to show an ID at the polling places have not led to a decrease in voting.

    We need to find common ground on the issue of encouraging voting and legitimate ballot security measures. That ground does exist.

  16. Such nice speeches at the inauguration, reminding us that it is the people to whom demographic government must answer…and then back — oh, so quickly — to serving the real bosses — the wealthy and the powerful.

  17. Greetings Lester. What are you doing here at this hour? You said you were leaving for the day. Well the day is still here. The terms use here are way over SOB & Bastard and MF etc. Have a good day tomorrow. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Irvin

  18. I will be dancing today to celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Pres Biden will be working today. Imagine that.

    I am grateful that despite all of Trump’s attempts to undermine our democracy, we still had a “free press” and freedom of speech. I still, however, plan to practice the right speech principle of Buddhism and keep my ugly speech to the 4 walls of my house. (I live alone with a cat).

    There is a huge rift in the Republican party. The question for me is how will the Republican party remove Trumpism from its ranks. If it fails to do so, we will continue to be plagued by right wing extremism. The media needs to keep its eyes on this even though Trump has left the White house. And if the Republican party fails to diversify its membership, to broaden its tent to include people of color and people from the LGBTQ community, they will find it hard over time, I believe, to win campaigns.

    And in the meantime, I have told my representatives in the state legislature that I want Indiana to ban choke holds. At least, I can do that. Oh and I treat all my neighbors with respect, even those who are people of color. I will strive to be the change I want to see in the world.

  19. The tone of this Inauguration — its small quiet crowd, its absence of excited masses, its restrained maturity, and its reverence without piety or doctrine or conceit — has been the most beautiful and poignant (and perhaps the most powerful) of all those that I remember, including Biden’s address: it seemed to me to rise from a small, community chapel of a much more intimate world than from the grand cathedral-like fulminations of the past. It certainly exceeded my expectations on all accounts.

  20. Robin, lol,

    ? Kitty don’t like that talk!

    I have no doubt that Pete Buttigieg will make a strong statement during his time in the administration! with his statesmanship, he just might eventually be president of the United states!

    But, if there is no reckoning concerning bigotry and unjust treatment, this experiment will not last much longer!

    And, you are right to keep things within your own four walls! Joseph Priestley, viscount Bolingbrook, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and John Locke, all said the same thing, you can have Reason and believe in a Deity, but keep it within your own four walls, keep it private!

    Instead of using it to divide and control your fellow man you use it to learn humility and compassion and respect and human dignity! Unfortunately, most people don’t see it that way.

  21. Lester; I am extremely proud of my only degree, the GED I received 28 years after dropping out of high school in my senior year.

    Irvin at 11:43 a.m.; thank you, I had the same question.

  22. A better edit would place ‘including Biden’s address’ immediately following ‘or conceit’. Thus:

    The tone of this Inauguration — its small quiet crowd, its absence of excited masses, its restrained maturity, its reverence without piety or doctrine or conceit, including Biden’s address — has been the most beautiful and poignant (and perhaps the most powerful) of all those that I remember, including Biden’s address: …

  23. The idea that the current GOP will now stick to the issues is a forlorn hope. The Trumpet and the Pastor Pence Regime may be gone, their Cult is very much alive. The GOP will still be pulled to the Reactionary-Evangelical Right. The GOP will remain the Party of NO – Sabotage and Scorched Earth.

    The GOP has no ideas, no platform except a rigorous Reactionary Ideology. Small Government means No Social Safety Net to either climb up or catch your fall, you will be left to the brutal dog eat dog of Steroid Crony Capitalism and the Prosperity Gospel.

    The GOP has proven during The Trump-Pastor Pence Regime by omission and commission a lack of backbone. After Obama won in 2008 and the Democrats had the Senate and House, there was some talk of the GOP expending their base. No such thing happened if anything they doubled down on Reactionary Right Wing Evangelical Ideology and the Trumpet arrived.

  24. Apologies to those who thought I was dissing those without college degrees – not intended. I did a poor job of suggesting that those of us elites who wave our degrees proudly still feed the fires of division by petty name calling. I could suggest the for those of us who proudly wave our religious values…how would Christ talk? How would Moses talk? How would Mohammed talk? Etc.

  25. I have written elsewhere that the Republican Party is headed back to the Whigdom from which it arose in 1854 and elected a president only six years later, a guy named Lincoln. The Whigs had their share of Norquists and Gingriches (though unlike those we have today) on the issue of whether newly admitted territories would come into the Union slave or free, whereas today our Norquists and Gingriches under the guise of “small government” and “a contract with America” and other such manufactured issues and with the help of the hopelessly ignorant (read Trump) and mammoth campaign contributions – rule the roost.

    That party today has no platform and no vision for the future, is demographically doomed and as a result has resorted to rampant prevarication, threats, misuse of the judiciary and voter suppression in many forms in giving us a demented child as president, the ultimate insult to governance in a democracy. Whigdom nears.

  26. One of the theme’s of Joe Biden’s Inaugural address today was telling the “truth.” I suppose there can be several ways of telling the “truth” so it still constitutes, in fact, the “TRUTH.”

    So what does one “fairly,” civilly,” “decently” call a person — not just a person, but a person who has taken a sacred oath of Office as a U.S. Representative or Senator to honor and defend the Constitution of the United States of America — who actively and seditiously attempted to overthrow a fair election of the U.S. Presidency and still be “TRUTHFUL?” If not a traitor to his/her Country?

    Particularly after a riotous mob they helped incite (and some may have actually assisted) threatened not only them, but erected a gallows and threatened to hang their own party’s Vice President? Not to mention the 5 deaths and many injuries to police officers. I am referring to Hawley, Cruz and the other 6 Senators as well as the 147 Representatives such as Kevin McCarthy (loved his little gift giving speech today — pretty sure he was being “sincere”) who voted to throw out my vote as well as the votes of 82 million of my fellow Americans. What should I refer to them as being or to what they did?

    Sorry Lester. Please let us know what you’d “civilly” and “decently” call these so-called “Republican” office holders, who blatantly violated their oaths to the Constitution of the United States of America in their allegiance to Trump (or far worse, their hope that Trump’s base would vote for them in the future) to attempt to overthrow the government of the United States?

  27. I am most worried about the 20,000 union jobs that will be cut by executive oder by excluding the xl pipeline. Will we have a better economy that propels us forward to the continuation of the low unemployment rate. Will and Garcon. Are two rhinos that never stop stabbing people with their horns and have notjing in common with the working individyal. I hope they find jobs on CNN

  28. “Traitor” is someone who betrays…in this case, their oath – perfectly straightforward adjective – clear with no “legal” definition needed .

    “psychos”, “white-nationalist-fake-Christian”, “insane narcissistic arsonist” are simply word Molotov cocktails with no place in civilized discourse to quell an already burning democracy.

  29. Vernon: Yes! Yes, that’s what the GOP is doing, yes to “…corporate smokescreen.”
    Biden and Harris are, now, already sworn in, and it remains to be seen what the senate (Schumer)
    will do in regard to the Hawley-Cruz axis!

  30. It was a day of joy, relief, and reverence. Thank you America for defeating Trump; for electing a seasoned man who understands our government’s obligations to its citizens and the world; for electing the first-ever woman to the 2nd highest office in the land; for providing a safe and inspiring series of inaugural events. Thank you Joe Biden for taking action the very first day to right so many wrongs of the previous President. Thank you for your message of unity and for an administration that’s the most aggressive to date to include all segments of society in leadership positions. And thank you for your reverential respect for the foundations of our democratic society. You’re the right man for the right time, and I’m especially thankful for that.

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