'It’s not cute anymore': Republicans watch helplessly as Trump drives their party into the ground
It was never cute. It was gross, unbridled, and hostile bigotry, racism, sexism, and xenophobia in its purest form, and it managed to be just appealing enough to some white Americans in 2016 to swing the electoral college in Donald Trump's favor.
But now, as Republicans helplessly watch Trump drive their party into the ground, his politics of toxic white grievance don't seem quite as appealing as they once did.
“It’s like when a 25-year old gets drunk and shows up at a family engagement. That can be cute," a senior GOP congressional aide told Politico. "But if you’re a 50-year-old and you show up at the gathering drunk and embarrassing, that just hits a little differently. It’s not cute anymore.”
It's impossible to know for certain whether that GOP aide was a white male, but that observation—that Trump's cruelty was ever cute—feels impossibly white and male. Nonetheless, that congressional aide was among those particularly down on Trump as Republicans seem to be cycling through different stages of grieving their demise.
There's Rudy Giuliani, who's still in awe-inspiring denial and pushing Trump to attack Joe Biden's mental acuity.
“I have a good friend who has early stage Alzheimer’s and they could be twins,” he said of Biden, asserting that “Nobody thinks Trump has a mental issue. ... There's no comparison between the two people in terms of being able to finish a sentence, being aware of where they are, and being able to go through five sentences that stick together. Trump is very sharp, actually."
Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.
Then there's Newt Gingrich, who completely blew the party's leadership prospects back in the '90s but still serves as a fixture in the GOP's most hallowed literati. Gingrich thinks Trump can dig himself out of this electoral hole if he stops acting like the "law and order" Nixon of '68 and more like the '72 Nixon who ran on a great economy. Ponder that one following the economy's greatest second-quarter contraction in recorded history.
Still other Republicans think it isn't about Trump at all, noting that Trump has been plummeting ever since incoming Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took over in February.
“I don’t think his newest team is serving him well,” said a White House official. “In fact it’s worse than ever. They came in thinking they know best, and they’ve not bothered to understand the president or West Wing.”
If only Trump had stuck with intellectual heavyweight Mick Mulvaney—he surely could have righted Trump’s COVID-19 ship.
According to 15 Republicans interviewed by Politico, Trump is "troubled that his usual arsenal seems to be having no effect." He also surely believes the problem lies elsewhere. Thus, his shuffling of campaign managers and short-lived "pivot" to striking a somber tone on the coronavirus before going all-in on quack science, demon sperm doctors, and his completely unproven hydroxychloroqine "cure." (It’s nothing of the sort, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has repeatedly asserted.)
Some top Republicans are still hoping against hope that Trump might tune into the fact that he's in a nosedive. But they're clearly still in denial as Trump continues amassing a mountain of excuses for why he'll lose in November.
And then, there's perhaps some acceptance from one prominent conservative who dared not speak his name.
“He’s weak, passive, and ruled by his insecurities,” he said of Trump. “We have all fallen for the oldest ruse in the book: the more insecure the person is, the more narcissistic he is.”
Speak for yourself, buddy.