When I was just a lad, my mother often admonished me, “If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.” She still encourages me to follow that dictum, so I try to do so.
Given the topic of this week’s column – the presidency of Donald J. Trump – that maternal direction becomes relevant again, so I’ll not be commenting. I’ve decided to report on what others have said – those who apparently had no motherly advice like I did.
I am selecting from comments made by Republicans, though some have changed their tune and are now in line with the former president. Nevertheless, they revealed themselves and made their observations and statements before they drank the Kool-Aid – or, as one senator suggested, the “Kook-Aid.”
I know there are many who identify with the Republican Party and still adhere to the erstwhile principles of that group. I’m not a Republican, but have known many, and we’ve agreed and disagreed. We had disagreements without being disagreeable (usually), but I agree with most of what they’ve said on this topic.
For instance, Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, former Speaker of the House, on Trump's refusal to denounce the KKK: "If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people's prejudices." Then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida: "We’re on the verge of having someone take over the conservative movement who is a con artist." He went on to say, "I mean, this is a guy that’s taken Trump Airlines bankrupt. Trump vodka, nobody wanted it. Trump mortgage was a disaster. Trump university was a fraud.” And this: "I believe Donald Trump as our nominee is going to shatter and fracture the Republican Party and the conservative movement."
They are not alone. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, once said: "This man is a pathological liar. He doesn't know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth." And this" "A narcissist at a level that I don't think this country has ever seen." Most shockingly, given his more recent comments, is Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who once said: "The more you know about Donald Trump, the less likely you are to vote for him. The more you know about his business enterprises, the less successful he looks. The more you know about his political giving, the less Republican he looks." He went on to say: "He's a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party. He doesn't represent the values the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. ... He's the ISIL man of the year." Graham has certainly changed his tune since he said that. What to believe, then or now?
Since he lost the election by over 7 million votes, Mr. Trump has fomented turmoil in the body politic by asserting, falsely, that he won the election. Many Republicans at the state and local level have run afoul of his temper as they assert, correctly, that there was no fraud, and that he lost the election fair and square. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, had this to say: “What I'm used to saying to any Republican that's maybe kind of confused by the moment we're in is policy doesn't matter anymore. It literally is all your loyalty to Donald Trump.”
I am hopeful we can move beyond that and get back to a two-party system.
Robert Lee is a retired social worker with interests in history and politics. He lives in Tahlequah.