Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson warned this weekend that GOP leaders who have endorsed Trump "own his politics."I'd also like to agree with The New Republic's Brian Beutler that Paul Ryan, in particular, will finally lose some of his Teflon now that he's backing Trump:
"You own his politics," Wilson wrote in a column for Heatstreet, adding later, "You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth."
As House speaker [Ryan will] face regular, high-profile inquiries about Trump’s most recent offenses, whether to conservatism or to good conscience. Every week will be a referendum on his decision. Can you continue to support your party’s presidential nominee? ... this continual reassessment will serve as an ongoing reminder of how badly the endorsement cuts against the image he presents of himself. It will drag on for months. If you’ve built your public image on claims to ideological commitment and high-mindedness, a cyclical, structural corrective like this should shatter it.But we've been told for nearly a year that Trump is at odds with the GOP Establishment. That's Trump's brand. Sure, the party Establishment fell in line as soon as Trump clinched the nomination (Ryan a bit more slowly than others), but the perception is still that this is a shotgun marriage, one that neither partner is particularly happy about. That will be the GOP's post-Trump alibi.
Also, the press continues to reinforce the notion that Trump is a heterodox Republican. He supposedly wants to preserve benefits for ordinary Americans when other Republicans don't. He supposedly wants to tax the rich in ways that other Republicans don't. He claims he opposed the most recent Republican war from the beginning. He says racist things that Republicans claim would never in a million years occur to them, even though, as Scott Lemieux notes, that's not the case:
You may remember, for example, the discourse surrounding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Her formal credentials were impeccable, essentially identical to Sam Alito’s. And, yet, Republicans routinely described her as “unqualified” because her background meant that she couldn’t be an impartial judge.After all this is over, Republicans will say they had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they endorsed Trump. They'll say he assured them that he'd tone down his rhetoric and become more presidential. They'll say that every time he shot off his mouth after clinching the nomination, they were shocked, shocked. He swore to them he wouldn't!
I’m also old enough to remember the National Review's chief legal affairs writer arguing that a judge should recuse himself from hearing a same-sex marriage case because he was gay.
In other words, Trump probably got the idea that only straight, conservative white men could be truly impartial judges from…listening to how Republicans talk about judges.
The press will accept all these excuses, and will allow the post-Trump GOP to pretend Trump never happened.