[guest post by Dana]
I’m already tired of the story, but… I don’t know where you fall on whether we need to take the former president to task for his appalling lack of discretion regarding with whom he broke bread or whether we should just ignore the whole matter altogether. I am, of course, talking about Trump’s now infamous dinner with a vulgar anti-Semite and a racist white nationalist who has denied the Holocaust while referring Jews “burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven”.
Over at NRO, Jim Geraghty offers his take on the do-we-or-don’t-we-discuss conundrum:
I also go back and forth on the question of whether it’s worth it to commit significant amounts of time and energy to denouncing Trump’s gathering.
A former president choosing to meet with this ugly crowd is too newsworthy to ignore, and anyone with a shred of decency or functioning brain cells would, could, and should say, “no, you should not welcome a hip-hop star who recently pledged to go to ‘Death Con Three on Jewish people’ and a Holocaust-denying white nationalist.”
On the other hand, this is a familiar-to-the-point-of-boring part of Trump’s schtick and pattern of welcoming all controversy and all coverage, and uncontrollable neediness for praise — and Fuentes’s desire to be a bigger deal than the little troll that he is. It feels like by talking about that dinner, even to denounce the attendees, we’re doing all of those narcissists a favor.
Maybe we are, but I don’t think so. My feeling is that when an individual is seeking to hold the highest office in the land, everything he says and does is fair game, and more imporantly, *should be* scrutinized. There is no excuse for his behavior and with whom he chooses to associate with. There is also no pleading ignorance on the matter. Period. With that, nothing Trump does should surprise us. Nothing at all. Despite his multiple defenses and excuses for having said-bottom dwellers over for dinner, the fact remains that he will engage with anyone from whom he thinks he might benefit. And I mean anyone. The quality of the individual matters little. It’s all transactional. Given the moral fiber and character of Trump, the bar can always be lowered if the individual he is entertaining is that reprehensible.
Anyway, it’s been interesting to watch Republicans struggle to respond to Trump’s utter lack of judgment. It’s been nothing but crickets for almost a week. Let’s check in and see who has been brave enough to step into the fray. Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana tweeted his condemenation:
President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party.
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) November 28, 2022
Sadly, Sen. Cassidy, this *is* indeed today’s Republican Party…
Along with Sen. Cassidy, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said that the Republican Party should condemn white supremacy and antisemitism:
“There’s no room in the Republican Party for white supremacists and antisemitism, so it’s wrong,” he told reporters as senators returned to the Capitol for votes.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was more general and less condemning in his reaction:
GOP Sen. Thune on Trump – Fuentes dinner:
“That’s just a bad idea on every level. I don’t know who was advising him on his staff but I hope that whoever that person was got fired”
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) November 28, 2022
It’s interesting that Thune doesn’t condemn Trump’s judgment and behavior, but rather puts the blame on an advisor. He knows, as do we, that it doesn’t matter if anyone on Trump’s staff warned him against entertaining those specific guests because he wouldn’t have listened.
It’s good to see a few Republicans speak out, but you know who didn’t wait a week and test the political winds before condeming the former president’s lack of judgment? You guessed it:
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) November 26, 2022
There’s some irony that the one Republican who has been virtually rejected by the Republican Party at large because she refused to go-along-to-get-along, continues to stand firm in her principles and those of the (once) Republican Party. The woman that the Republican Party wants nothing to do with is the one brave enough to say what should be publicly said. For the sake of a lost Republican Party, and the viability of its future.
Once upon a time, Rep. Cheney faced the same decision that these silent Republicans face: Do I risk my political career by condeming the egregious behavior of
the man who wants to become the next POTUS the sitting President of the United States, or do I keep quiet to save my political career? I wonder how many more opportunities to do the right thing with regard to Trump these cowards will have. How many more opportunities to publicly stand on the espoused values and principles of the Party and condemn that which runs against its very fiber? I guess if you’re too afraid to condemn Trump for something as breathtakingly awful as fomenting an insurrection and attempting to overthrow a legitimate election outcome, why on earth would you risk everything because of a vile little dinner party…
P.S. Today Mike Pence called on Trump to apologize. He said that he doesn’t believe that the former president is a racist, bigot, or anti-Semite.
P.P.S. Mitt Romney doesn’t hold back:
“There is no bottom to the degree to which he’s willing to degrade himself, and the country for that matter. Having dinner with those people was disgusting,” Romney said, according to NBC News, noting that he “voted to remove (Trump) from office twice” and saying “anybody else” would be a better party leader.
“I don’t think he should be president of the United States. I don’t think he should be the nominee of our party in 2024,” he said. “And I certainly don’t want him hanging over our party like a gargoyle.”