Yesterday’s wisdom

Some things make so much sense when you read them that you just know they’re true. They can’t not be true.  Depending on your own view of the world, they may give you comfort or consternation. Either way, they’re so obviously true, you can just accept them and modify your behavior and thinking going forward based on what you’ve read.

Less than two months ago, a couple of weeks before the election, Paul Krugman wrote  that Donald Trump had only a 7% chance of being elected according to the Times Upshot model, whatever that is.

His theme in that piece was basically that any Republicans who had endorsed him or hadn’t backed away from him soon enough should be ashamed of themselves, and that anyone who voted for down-ballot candidates were voting for Trumpism.

It was obvious from the beginning that he was a “con artist” — so declared Marco Rubio, who has nonetheless endorsed his candidacy. His racism and sexism were apparent from the beginning of his campaign; his vindictiveness and lack of self-discipline were on full display in his tirades against Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Khizr Khan.

So any politicians who try after the election to distance themselves from the Trump phenomenon — or even unendorse in these remaining few days — have already failed the character test. They knew who he was all along, they knew that this was a man who should never, ever hold any kind of responsible position, let alone become president. Yet they refused to speak out against his candidacy as long as he had a chance of winning — that is, they supported him when it mattered, and only distanced themselves when it didn’t. That’s a huge moral failure, and deserves to be remembered as such.

Of course, we know why the great majority of Republican politicians supported Mr. Trump despite his evident awfulness: They feared retribution from the party’s base if they didn’t. But that’s not an excuse. On the contrary, it’s reason to trust these people even less. We already know that they lack any moral backbone, that they will do whatever it takes to guarantee their own political survival.

And what this means in practice is that they will remain Trumpists after the election, even if the Orange One himself vanishes from the scene.

What he wrote made all the sense in the world. It was all obviously true. Backing Trump was an indication of spinelessness and dishonesty. But it’s all yesterday’s wisdom


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