The one thing Americans should be proud of after Charlottesville

It shouldn’t be difficult to stand up for tolerance and coexistence, but in fact it was too hard for many of Mr. Trump’s allies and apologists, who sought to excuse, soften, modify, justify and reinterpret his evasive initial statement about the events Saturday. Even national security adviser H.R. McMaster, widely respected as a straight-talking general, joined the ranks of Mr. Trump’s enablers.

.. But what punch do the right words pack when they are so obviously begrudging, belated and bestowed under the weight of overwhelming pressure?

.. If there is reason for hope at this dismal juncture, it is that Americans who stand on principle are recognized and extolled for having done so. By speaking truth to power, Mr. Frazier and others like him galvanized the national conversation and helped cauterize the wound inflicted by Charlottesville, at least for the moment. That, at least, should give Americans cause for pride.

Sorry, Mike Pence, You’re Doomed

When a story’s actually wrong, you eviscerate it, exposing its erroneous assertions without ever breaking a sweat. When it’s a stink bomb at odds with your plotting, you set your jaw, redden your face and proclaim it “disgraceful,” never detailing precisely how.

.. On some level, he must realize that he’s in a no-win situation. Without Trump he’s nothing. With Trump he’s on a runaway train that he can’t steer or brake. If it doesn’t crash, Trump can scream down the tracks straight through 2020. If it does, Pence will be one of the casualties.

.. So why has Pence formed a political action committee, the only sitting vice president ever to do so? Why is he taking all these meetings, building all these bridges? I guess there could be some imaginable future in which Trump falls and Pence is left standing strong enough to soldier on. But mostly he’s in denial, and he’s living very dangerously.

.. The scenarios are myriad, and to prepare for them, Pence indeed needs an infrastructure and a network of his own. But there’s simply no way to assemble those without looking disloyal to Trump and courting the wrath of alt-right types who know how to go on a Twitter jihad.

  • Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, whose unofficial 2020 campaign commenced even before Trump’s inauguration, can raise money, stage news conferences, take up residence on CNN and pick apart Trump’s proposals all he wants.
  • Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska can style himself as a humble, homespun remedy to Trump’s cupidity and histrionics.
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas can take a calibrated approach, more hawkish than Trump on foreign policy but eager to link arms with him on immigration.

.. Pence, though, is squeezed tight into a corner of compulsory worship. And despite his behind-the-scenes machinations, he has done a masterful job of appearing perfectly content there.

.. In news photographs and video, you catch other politicians glancing at the president in obvious bafflement. Not Pence. Never Pence. He moons. He beams. It’s 50 shades of infatuation. Daniel Day-Lewis couldn’t muster a more mesmerizing performance, and it’s an unusually florid surrender of principles.

.. before he agreed to become Trump’s running mate, he blasted Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, tweeting that it was “offensive and unconstitutional,” and fiercely advocated free trade. I’m referring to Pence’s supposed morality.

He trumpets his conservative Christianity and avoids supping alone with any woman other than his wife, then turns around and steadfastly enables an avowed groper with a bulging record of profanely sexual comments.

.. No wonder he wants and expects a reward as lavish as the White House itself: He sold his soul. But I don’t think he studied the contract closely enough and thought the whole thing through.

Donald Trump Deepens GOP Divide

President’s turbulent week fuels frustration in his party, though core supporters remain loyal

President Donald Trump’s tumultuous past week has widened rifts in his party, between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it ..

.. After a week that included the president attacking his attorney general, the collapse of a GOP health bill, a surprise effort to bar transgender people in the military and a White House staff shakeup, divisions that were largely set aside at the start of 2017 have emerged anew.

..“Particularly among some of my former colleagues in the House, there is a frustration and lament about opportunities squandered in what should be a prime time for a GOP legislative agenda,” said former Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida.
..“They are going to stick with Trump—they like him the more combative he is and the more his back is against the wall,” he said. “He captured a very angry base, and Trump has mastered the suggestion that fighting and being angry is actually accomplishing results.”
.. Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) said that Republican leaders were complicit if they didn’t call out Mr. Trump for his behavior. “We can’t respond to everything,” he said. “But there are times when you have to stand up and say ‘I’m sorry. This is wrong.’ ”
.. On the other side are Republicans who echo Mr. Trump’s behavior and tone.Rep. Blake Farenthold (R., Texas) last week suggested that he would have settled differences with Ms. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), who both made decisive votes against a GOP health plan, by challenging them to duels had they been male. Mr. Farenthold later apologized. Rep. Buddy Carter (R., Ga.), asked about Trump’s decision to attack Ms. Murkowski on Twitter over her “no” vote, used a confusing but coarse phrase that suggested resorting to physical assault.

.. Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse Mr. Trump, said that instead of turbulence, Mr. Trump last week “had one of the best weeks he has ever had.” Pointing to his calls to crack down on the street gang known as MS-13, Mr. Collins said that “he is addressing one of the scourges of America.”

.. Signs are emerging that the intraparty battle could threaten the party’s standing in the 2018 elections and the president’s beyond that. Mr. Jolly, the former Florida congressman, said he is part of a group discussing how to put together a primary challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020.
.. Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and lieutenant governor of Maryland, said “the president is in his element when in front of a crowd of 40,000 instead of behind his desk dealing with the minutiae of governing. That’s not governing, that’s theater, a reality TV presidency.”

Trump’s Pious and Dangerous Enablers

Did I miss something when Trump said he was salivating at the chance to take health care away from 22 million Americans and the 87-year-old Robertson merely responded with his trademark chucklehead chuckle?

.. Robertson is not the most despicable of Trump’s enablers. For that, you’re probably thinking of Sean Hannity. No, it goes beyond the safe spaces in broadcasting. The most odious of those who are letting Trump drag America into the gutter include Vice President Mike Pence, the leaders in Congress and the pious shepherds of a white evangelical community that continues to give an awful man a pass for every awful thing he does.

.. Pence is the choirboy who leaves the room when the nasty boys take over, and then helps clean up later.

.. Pence has said he would never dine alone with a woman who is not his wife, which raises questions about how he would handle a diplomatic dinner with Angela Merkel.

.. Through every degrading statement, every Oval Office insult, every one of the more than 500 demonstrable lies told (so far) by this president, Pence has remained silent or defended the offender.

And if the White House is blackmailed because the Kremlin has something even more damning on, say, Jared Kushner .. Pence will be further exposed as a gutless cipher.
.. Another boy scout in hiding is House Speaker Paul Ryan. Golly gee, he just wants to cut taxes on the rich, destroy the health care system, and work on his abs and guns.
.. Asked this week if he would ever have a meeting with a foreign power offering dirt on a political opponent, he said, “I’m not going to go into hypotheticals.”
.. And the above question is anything but a hypothetical; the dim-bulbed Donald Trump Jr. presented it in writing.
.. A true miracle would be for one of the enablers among the 81 percent of white evangelicals who gave their vote to Trump to follow their conscience, or at least the Scriptures they profess guide them.