Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson bears some responsibility for what has become of the Republican Party. He was a top aide to President George W. Bush - and played a role in taking the nation to war based on lies - and as director of presidential speechwriting and assistant to the president for speechwriting and policy adviser. Yet despite this questionable background, Donald Trump is too much for Gerson who not only takes Trump to task in a new column but also those in the GOP seeking to rationalize and/or justify their self-prostitution to Trump and the ugliness that his campaign thrives on at its core. Would that Gerson would have found such integrity back in his White House days. I guess it's a case of better late than never. Here are column high lights:
What common views or traits unite the most visible Trump partisans? A group including Limbaugh and Christie is not defined primarily by ideology. Rather, the Trumpians share a disdain for “country-club” Republicans (though former House speaker John Boehner apparently likes Trump because they were golfing buddies). They tend to be white and middle-aged. They are filled with resentment.
Above all, they detest weakness in themselves and others. The country, in their view, has grown soft and feeble. Their opponents are losers, lacking in energy. Rather than despising bullying — as Ryan, Romney and all the Bushes do — they elevate it. The strong must take power, defy political correctness, humiliate and defeat their opponents, and reverse the nation’s slide toward mediocrity.
There have always been politicians who despise weakness and the weak. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson are examples. They were not always bad at governing, but they were bad human beings who came to a bad end.
This type of leadership can motivate, usually through resentment and anger. What it cannot do is inspire. Inspiring leaders are often those who identify with the weak. They may develop this trait by rising from poverty themselves, like Abraham Lincoln did. Or they may have had their capacity for empathy expanded by suffering, such as Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with polio.
This is the main reason that some of us cannot simply lump it and reluctantly lend our support to Trump. The Republican Party is not engaged in a policy argument; it is debating the purpose of politics. For some Trump opponents, the justice of a political system is determined by its treatment of the vulnerable and weak. In the Catholic tradition, this is called “solidarity.” Whatever you call it, this commitment is inconsistent with a type of politics that beats up on the vulnerable and weak — say, undocumented workers, or Muslims — for political gain.
Those who accuse Trump opponents of elitism are engaged in a particularly mendacious slur. Trump is attempting to place nativism at the center of U.S. politics. Those who resist are not enforcing the rules of a private club. Many — including religious people in poor and working-class communities — are defending a vision of politics in which empathy is honored and the weak are placed first. They are opposing a candidate who mocks disabled people, demeans women, engages in ethnic stereotyping and encourages religious bigotry.
Those who regard this tawdry mix of vulgarity and cruelty as typical of any social class are engaged in a particularly offensive form of condescension. Hating losers and the weak is fundamentally inconsistent with Christian ethics, and other sources of moral judgment, in every income quintile.
Make no mistake. Those who support Trump, no matter how reluctantly, have crossed a moral boundary. They are standing with a leader who encourages prejudice and despises the weak. They are aiding the transformation of a party formed by Lincoln’s blazing vision of equality into a party of white resentment. Those who find this one of the normal, everyday compromises of politics have truly lost their way.
This is not even to mention Trump’s pledge to limit press freedom, or his malicious birtherism, or his dangerous vaccine skepticism, or his economic plans that would bring global recession, or his lack of relevant qualifications, or his temperament of brooding and bragging, egotism and self-pity,
Some are trying their best to act as though all this were normal. But we are seeing, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, “lunacy dancing in high places.” None of this requires a vote for Hillary Clinton. But it forbids a vote for Donald Trump.