We hear a lot about the so-called Republican establishment's frustration with the prospect of the man whom George Will, the venerable conservative pundit, correctly characterized as a "bloviating nincompoop" being their presidential nominee. The party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has to come to grips with the notion of a candidate more closely akin to the melding of a spoiled-rotten Richie Rich with Yosemite Sam. Mount Rushmore rendered in cartoons.
As the party approaches its convention in Cleveland the chances of a nominee more closely aligned to traditional Republican values is diminishing with every primary. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when guys who are used to flying in their own private jets suddenly find themselves footing it down a dirt road to perdition. The party that made voting in the states it controls as easy as threading a needle on a treadmill can't find a way to derail the express train to disaster. It just keeps rollin' right past the whistle stops with the engineer, still firmly seated in the cab, making a universally recognized rude gesture in their direction.
I'm not sure what kind of reaction the GOP hierarchy's plethora of pain is supposed to evoke in the rest of us.
Could they, like George Minafer in "The Magnificent Ambersons," be finally getting the comeuppance they so eminently deserve? Or should our response be more sympathetic. After all, the chilling spectacle of a man so dismally unqualified to hold the most important office in the nation should be of paramount concern to any thinking American.
I will be the first to admit, however, that sympathy is not particularly easy to summon when it is directed towards the very people whose invaluable contribution helped loose the monster on us. Without them, he would still be just another second-string fixture in NBC's line-up of brain dead television programming.
I guess we are supposed to believe that the Republican establishment's professions of dismay effectively exempt them from any responsibility for it. The truth is that they have been the driving force behind the emergence of a man like Donald Trump for a very long time.
Paul Krugman had a very prescient view of the grave the GOP has been digging for itself in a recent column in the New York Times. For years, Krugman stated, the Republican establishment has been exercising a complex scheme of bait and switch on the party faithful. The ascension of Trump is simply evidence that their constituents have finally caught on. The time-tested social issues dodge isn't working so well anymore.
Nothing could be more illustrative of that fact than the fury that Gov. Pat McCrory and his Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina have instigated by passing a law addressing a nonexistent problem involving the use of public restrooms and adamantly refusing to allow individual communities within the state to decide the issue for themselves. The best defense the besieged McCrory can offer when he is being questioned about the bigoted maneuver is to sheepishly say that "other states do it too", like a 5-year-old blaming his siblings for complicity in a cookie jar raid.
Until a federal court decides, as it inevitably will, that the law is blatantly discriminatory, the opponents of this typical Republican tactic to pander to the worst instincts of the public couldn't have chosen a better way of protesting it. I can't think of anything that will quash the Republicans' obsession with sex faster than the thought that it might cost them money. Hit them squarely in the pocketbook where it really hurts and see how long the concern for drooling deviates lurking in toilet stalls lasts. (Kudos to Paypal, Bruce Springsteen, American Airlines, Wells Fargo, and the National Basketball Association among many others.)
Many Republicans have genuine, heartfelt concerns about social issues (abortion, same sex marriage) that are undergoing tremendous changes in the nation today. But the Republican establishment we hear so much about has only one overriding concern: Protecting and advancing the best interests of roughly one percent of the population. They merely use the social issues as a necessary smokescreen given the fact that there aren't too many voters who particularly care whether the Koch brothers accumulate another billion or two.
The party that provided a man like Trump with a portal to unimaginable power still denies the fact that the drastic changes we are experiencing in the Earth's climate are largely the result of human activity. It steadfastly resists any attempts to reign in outrageously excessive executive pay while denying workers the opportunity to earn a salary that merely puts food on their tables. This is the real Republican establishment that is now wringing its hands in despair. We should save any sympathy for something worthy of it.
— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist