After the week they’ve just had, it’s hard to imagine how the Republican party could get any more hideous.
The last week of July was supposed to be all about the Democrats — it was their national convention, after all. And yet even with the Republicans slightly sidelined by the DNC, they still found a way to revolt and repulse.
The DNC started on a down note for the Democrats, with the release of tons of emails likely hacked by Russian operatives. It was the excuse the party needed to sideline Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the party head who’d grown to be universally disliked.
The whole thing looked messy and unpleasant, especially when Hillary heaped praise upon Debbie and announced that the former party head would retain a position in the campaign. That was the opposite of what anyone wanted to see, a seeming confirmation of the crooked deal-making that makes it so hard to trust any politician.
Fortunately, that was overshadowed by news of the source of the email leak. Since the Russian government seemed to be responsible, conversation eventually turned to Trump’s numerous connections to Putin. The tangle between the two men is extensive: Trump has previously boasted of using his Miss Universe pageant as an excuse to hold meetings with Russian oligarchy, and he has deep financial interests in the country.
His campaign staff is even more involved; advisor Paul Manafort, for example, has worked with Putin’s puppet in the Ukraine, and advisor Carter Page did PR work to make Putin more appealing to westerners.
It’s hardly evidence that Trump had anything to do with the leak, but it certainly reminded voters that he’s a friend to the Russians. It didn’t help that he made a “joke” (or was it serious? Hard to tell) encouraging Russian spies to hack Hillary’s email servers.
Once the convention swung into full gear, suddenly Republican observers were astounded to discover that they were being drawn in by everything that the Democrats were saying. Following a particularly moving speech by Obama, social media was awash in stupefied conservative commentators lamenting that their own party had become deeply unappealing by comparison.
“Will a Trump apologist explain to me why an 18 [year old] watching the conventions would want to be a Republican? We’re giving away a generation,” wrote one insider.
Trump’s answer to this was to insist that Republicans have no choice but to vote for him. Those were literally his words: “If you really like Donald Trump, that’s great, but if you don’t, you have to vote for me anyway.”
Trump’s reasoning is that Republicans need him to ensure that the Supreme Court stays conservative. That’s a nice argument, but no serious political observer takes it seriously, since you can’t trust Donald Trump. He may promise a conservative court, but there’s no telling what he might actually do. And besides, presidents don’t appoint Supreme Court justices; they can only nominate them. (Trump also called them “judges,” which they are not — justices are different from judges.)
Ultimately, it was a disastrous week for the Republicans, and that was before their presidential nominee began a sustained attack on the parents of a dead American soldier. It’s only going to get worse from here.