Following last Friday’s release of an 11-year old recording of a private conversation between Donald Trump and now former Today show host Billy Bush – a conversation in which the two were engaged in gritty conversation about sex and women – some Republicans have bolted for the tall grass.
Led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, several congressional Republicans have been at pains to distance themselves from Donald Trump – all while still courting the very voters who chose Trump as their nominee.
These Republicans are playing a very dangerous game.
For many of them, their seats in Congress are the direct result of a revolt against Washington that spans three elections and accounts for Republican majorities in both houses.
It is the same revolt that accounts for the fact that Donald Trump crushed 16 other well-qualified Republicans to win the nomination.
Here’s the thing for you queasy Republicans. The majority of Republican voters are fed up. They’ve come to regard the Republican Party as incompetent. They’ve come to regard establishment Republicans as a bunch of quislings – men and women who tell voters one thing to get elected only to turn on those very voters when they get to Washington.
It’s all well and good for you folks to be “outraged” by Trump’s 11-year old hot-mic recording. But you were sent to Washington because of voter outrage about a corrupt system that you promised to change. To the eyes of a decisive percentage of Republican voters, you barely even tried.
The fact that the majority of Republican voters chose Donald Trump over the likes of Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and 13 others should be telling you something. The fact that Donald Trump is directly responsible for the highest Republican primary voter turnout in history is a shot across your bow. That Trump can fill up a big-city sports arena on a couple of hours notice is not to be lightly dismissed.
The simple truth is this: you guys cannot escape Donald Trump no matter how hard you try. He is a Frankenstinian monster of your own creation.
Had you not fumbled the mandate that was given you in 2010 and again in 2014, Trump would still be doing a TV reality show. Had the nominee that you and every Republican supported in 2012 risen to the task, we would all be talking about re-electing President Romney.
Renounce Trump and you might very well suffer in one of two ways. Either Trump wins, in which case you will look opportunistic and spineless while having few friends at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Or Trump loses, and you face the very real chance that the voters who hired you – and who retain the right to fire you — will blame you for the loss.
So understand this: There is no ‘safe space.’ You created Donald Trump. You own him.
Like it or not.