Having said that, I still think Trump is actually good for the Republican Party -- in the long term. I know that's "politically incorrect" to say, but I really believe the GOP needs to hit rock bottom before it can become a serious party again. Even if Trump gets crushed in the fall, which I fully expect he will, he's giving the party a chance (if they choose to take it) to reassess what it has become. And what it's become is a party that serves the economic interests of the one percent and is needlessly, recklessly adventurous in foreign policy.
Mitt Romney, speaking a few weeks ago, called Mr. Trump a "con man," a "fake," a "fraud" and a "phony," whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University." And he's right, of course. He also said the Donald:
...lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.
Again, Romney is right -- no argument from me. But, wait, there's more:
Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark. He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq.
Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11.
Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it. He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. The president of the United States has long been the leader of the free world.
Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics.
And yet . . . and yet . . . Trump has also questioned the wisdom of invading Iraq. And the need to cut Social Security and Medicare. And the effects of free trade on jobs and the working classes. And whether or not the rich should pay more in taxes. (Although his own tax plan would be the most regressive of all. Just bear with me.)
My point here is that Trump is bringing up some very uncomfortable questions for Republicans to ask themselves. But it's these very issues that Republicans need to examine before they can go forward. In fact, I would say that Republicans need to take a good, hard look at the last time they held the White House and why it was such a failure.
Let's go back to Mr. Romney's speech. The 2012 GOP standard-bearer said:
Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have real problems and serious challenges. We do. At home, poverty persists. And wages are stagnant.
And what do Republicans offer? Lower taxes on the rich.
His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.
Now, granted, a 35 percent tariff would be extreme (although Republicans didn't mind high tariffs in the go-go years of the late nineteenth century), but "our export jobs" have already been killed by free trade, and lower prices are cold comfort when you're out of work. As for leading "entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America," Romney is going all John Galt on us. That's like saying high taxes will cause rich people to move out of New York City. Pssst: It hasn't happened.
Romney said Trump's "tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt." Um, so would all the other Republicans. Not one of them had a sensible tax plan, not even "moderate" John Kasich. (I looked at all of them.) As for "reforming," i. e., "cutting" entitlements, it's really not rocket science: just lift the cap on payroll taxes and Social Security and Medicare will be solvent for decades. (How do Republicans think every other developed country in the world provides a safety net for its citizens, magic?)
Romney said "not every policy that Donald Trump has floated is bad, of course. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He wants to bring jobs home from China and Japan. But his prescriptions to do those things are flimsy at best." Do I have to point out -- again -- that Republicans still don't have a health care plan to replace Romneycare, I mean Obamacare, after the ACA was passed six years ago. And "bring jobs home from China and Japan"? What Republican even talks about that?
Romney then turns "to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones." (Not exactly the Republicans' long suit.) "Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose?" Again, how is this different from the rest of his party? Romney says Trump is reckless in the extreme and "calls for the use of torture." Like . . . George W. Bush?
When Mr. Romney laments Trump's stumble on the Ku Klux Klan he says it will enable Mrs. Clinton's victory. What he neglects to mention is that appeals to racism are just plain wrong. And why would he? It's the GOP that's been playing footsie with racists for almost 50 years, since Richard Nixon's "southern strategy."
So I still say Donald Trump is ultimately good for the Republican Party: only after a lopsided defeat in November (combined with down-ticket losses) will its members examine the failings of the W. years, both domestically and abroad, and make some changes to the GOP's worn-out policies. Maybe then it can begin the long road back to respectability.