Sometimes, all you can do is stand back and breathe.
“I never expected the ultra-MAGA Republicans who seemed to control the Republican Party now,” the president of the United States said on Monday. “I never anticipated that happening.”
To all of us who have now been shouting for decades about the inexorable march toward this precise state of affairs, the willful obliviousness of this statement from Biden is truly stunning.
Imagine if Bill Gates announced that he only recently realized the electron is a thing, or if Luciano Pavarotti just thought he was yelling the whole time, or if they started using Diet Coke and Mentos in the fountains at the Bellagio. People would flip out, right? This is not reality. I’m not sure what sort of perspective the president is leaning on when he makes the kind of proclamation he coughed up on Monday, but it has little to do with the goings-on down here on this ball of dirt we call Earth.
Almost completely without fail, President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer and every other member of the ossified Democratic Party “leadership” somehow fail time and again to see what has been staring them in the face since Ronald Reagan rewired the country. Even this article isn’t new; I’ve written a version of it annually for more than 20 years now, and not even the damn names change.
The big abortion vote in the Senate yesterday? This was supposed to be Schumer’s big strategic move, or something. The point? To get Republicans on the record as opposing abortion. WELL STONE THE CROWS, nobody thought it would turn out like it did, right?
Nearly all the Republicans in Congress live to vocalize their disdain for Roe, and if I make my bet, each of those votes promptly went into a direct fundraising mailer to the GOP base. Ol’ Chuck made some money for his pals across the aisle, and gave Joe Manchin another chance to stick his thumb in Schumer’s eye. May as well have had them vote on whether or not they are actually mammals.
Help me out here, because maybe it’s me… but how many clues do you need before you come to conclude that the GOP is no longer a political party, but a well-funded far right insurrection club packed to bursting with a rancid concoction of woman-haters, gay-bashers, flagrant racists, gun fetishists, Christian dominionists and warmongers with dreams of empire oozing from their eyes?
Trump didn’t do this; politically and historically speaking, he came down with the last drop of rain. All he did was flip the switch, applying the proper lack of shame to every petulant grievance these people have been rubbing together for 40 years. They haven’t been quiet about it, either. Where’s the damn mystery here?
It was maybe a clue when Newt Gingrich turned the House of Representatives into a single-minded engine of destruction arrayed against the Clinton White House.
It was not hidden when Republican activists like Roger Stone violently attacked the vote count in Florida and delivered the 2000 election to another right-bent Supreme Court.
It was right there when George W. Bush and a bunch of Reagan cast-offs lied us into a pair of two-decade wars.
How many clues do you need before you come to conclude that the GOP is no longer a political party?
It wasn’t magic when Bush supporters became Tea Partiers and then MAGA fanatics. It’s all the same GOP base, the grandchildren of Barry Goldwater. All they did was change t-shirts and bollix the spelling on a whole new set of protest signs. They are the same people with the same goals, and they have been with us since before Bobby Kennedy got shot. Would flash cards be helpful?
President Biden shouldn’t need to be reminded of this one, because he was right there in the front row when it happened: GOP governors from a pile of red states refused to take free money to start their Affordable Care Act exchanges, because doing so would badly damage the program’s rollout and deny Barack Obama a clean win. These guys screwed their states and millions of their constituents just to brick the nation’s first Black president. I can draw you a map.
More recently? Hm… how about four long years of Donald Trump frothing hate and madness into every available camera? How about his supporters backing him no matter what career-killing blunder he committed? How about the violence of his rallies and the swelling ranks of the “patriot” militias? How about the Gohmerts and the Greenes and the Gosars and the Jordans not-so-quietly becoming the voice and face of the party, even as they labor to defenestrate the very government they work for? Back in Lincoln’s day, people like that were called “Copperheads” and cast as poisonous snakes wielding venom to support the Confederacy. Now, they’re called “Republicans,” and the Democratic leadership barely bats an eye.
How about the attack on the Capitol? The world saw the Confederate battle flag being carried down those august marble halls as rabid Trump fans feverishly threatened to hang Democrats from a gibbet that was waiting out on the lawn. Trump offered his own vice president as a blood sacrifice to the mob, a turn of events that was only narrowly avoided because Pence can run faster than his ambitions when the chips are down.
How about Trump leading the 2024 presidential election pack by galactic margins, even in the face of all that has transpired? That isn’t enough to inform Biden that his old pals in the Republican Party are literally or figuratively dead and buried, and bourbons with secessionists is no longer on the menu because they’d just as soon throw him down the stairs as pass a word with him?
Here’s what I’d like, and it should not be hard to pull off. Get Biden, Pelosi and Schumer in a locked room with Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Have Cheney and Kinzinger explain in excruciating detail why they just subpoenaed five Republican House members over the 1/6 insurrection. Further, have them explain how Trump and his people are laboring mightily to steal the next presidential election in broad daylight.
Cheney and Kinzinger are perfect for this role, because absent a few extra genes, they come from the same family tree as the bedlamists currently running their party. How long has it been like this? They know. What can be done to thwart it? They probably have some ideas.
At a bare-bones minimum, such a meeting might serve to drill some much-needed reality into the skulls of these Democrats, who seem constitutionally incapable of properly judging the caliber and intentions of their opponents. The republic is sliding down the edge of a keen knife right now, and doe-eyed surprise that there are mean people in the building is precisely not what is required in the moment.
It won’t actually solve anything, of course, but God help us, it’s a start. Maybe I can finally stop writing this article every year.