Paul Krugman Slams Hypocritical Trump Defectors
Over the weekend, John McCain and other prominment Republicans tripped over each other to withdraw their support for Donald Trump, following revelations about exactly where he likes to grab women. The retractions were so swift, you'd think there was a medal involved, or at least a cookie from the press, for their valiant efforts in simply declining to support a misogynist. Instead of cookies, however, many columnists, including Paul Krugman in Monday's New York Times column, responded with: "What took you so long?"
Many conservatives, Krugman points out, are claiming the latest scandal is somehow different from all of the other arguably worse comments Trump has made about everyone from Gold Star families, to war heroes like John McCain, to federal judges, to contestants in his own beauty pageants. "One excuse we’re now hearing," Krugman writes, "is that the new revelations are qualitatively different—that disrespect for women is one thing, but boasting about sexual assault brings it to another level."
Fortunately, Krugman isn't buying it, reminding readers that "Mr. Trump has in effect been promising violence against minorities all along. His insistence last week that the Central Park Five, who were exonerated by DNA evidence, were guilty and should have been executed was even worse than The Tape, but drew hardly any denunciations from his party."
Five innocent men were in jail for decades, while Trump took out full-page ads calling for their execution. But this appalling racism wasn't enough for powerful Republicans.
Lest you think it had to take a sex scandal to take Trump down, Krugman reminds us that "even if you consider sexual predation somehow uniquely unacceptable, you have to ask where all these pearl-clutching Republicans were back in August, when Roger Ailes— freshly fired from Fox News over horrifying evidence that he used his position to force women into sexual relationships—joined the Trump campaign as a senior adviser."
So what is powerful enough? Declining poll numbers and the specter of losing. Racism and sexism, even assault, are fine with the Republican leadership as long as they're winning. According to Krugman, the Access Hollywood tape only registered as a scandal because "the candidate’s campaign was already in free fall. You can even see it in the numbers: The probability of a House Republican jumping off the Trump train is strongly related to the Obama share of a district’s vote in 2012."
"We’re talking about a party that has long exploited white backlash to mobilize working-class voters, while enacting policies that actually hurt those voters but benefit the wealthy. Anyone participating in that scam—which is what it is—has to have the sense that politics is a sphere in which you can get away with a lot if you have the right connections."
The attitude seems to be, as long as you're winning, who cares who gets hurt? And if Trump loses, Republicans will once again be falling over each other to prove that Trump is an outlier, that he doesn't represent the party. We can only hope that voters heed Krugman's warning, that Trump "isn’t so much an anomaly as he is a pure distillation of his party’s modern essence."