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Title: Republicans Defending Trump Are 'Hurting Themselves and They're Hurting the Country'
Source: Reason
URL Source: https://reason.com/2019/07/17/amash ... nd-theyre-hurting-the-country/
Published: Jul 17, 2019
Author: Eric Boehm
Post Date: 2019-07-18 09:25:15 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 432
Comments: 5

In a new book, Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.), the libertarian-leaning former Republican lawmaker who left the party earlier this month, says the contemporary Republican Party is full of liars.

In interviews conducted a year ago but not published until now, Amash says President Donald Trump's ability to shamelessly lie to the American people is his "superpower," and accuses his former congressional allies of "lying through their teeth" to protect the president.

"They believe in a cosmic battle between the right and the left, good and evil, and they think any criticism of Trump is helping the other side," Amash told Politico reporter Tim Alberta in a previously unreported interview that appears in Alberta's new book: American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.

The book is a wide-ranging and comprehensive look at the evolution of the GOP during the past decade, as a grassroots-versus-establishment fight morphed into a populist takeover that elevated a reality TV star to the White House. It unfolds chronologically over the course of that decade, with each chapter taking place within a single month somewhere between February 2008 (when John McCain overtook Mitt Romney in the GOP presidential primary) and December 2018 (when Trump shut down the government in a fit of anger over his unfunded border wall). Trump's election, Alberta concludes, is not the cause of the current chaos within the GOP, but rather "its most manifest consequence."

Amash was one of the few Republican members of Congress who managed to avoid being caught up in Trump hysteria—until it effectively forced him to resign from the party. His colleagues, Amash tells Alberta, are "willing to do whatever" to placate the president.

"If that means going on Fox News and lying through their teeth about Trump, so be it," he says. "I think they're hurting themselves and they're hurting the country when they do this stuff."

Amash also unloads on Trump, saying that the president has a "one of a kind" ability to shamelessly lie in public.

"The president feels comfortable saying two things that are completely contradictory in one sentence; or going to a rally and saying one thing and then holding a press conference and saying another," Amash tells Alberta. "Most people aren't comfortable doing that. But because he is, it gives him this superpower that other people don't have."

Taken together, Amash's comments in the new book cement the idea that he was "the loneliest man in Congress" during much of the past year. Amash's feud with Trump—and with the Republican Party now controlled and dominated by Trump—did not fully spill into the open until a few months ago, but the details reported by Alberta make clear that Amash was already on the outs with many of his fellow Republicans more than a year ago.

Much of Amash's angst was centered on the fading viability of the House Freedom Caucus, the libertarian-ish voting bloc in Congress that Amash co-founded in 2015. Originally, Freedom Caucus members pledged to "support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety, and prosperity of all Americans." While it never grew larger than about 30 members, the voting bloc played an instrumental role in ousting House Speaker John Boehner in 2015, complicated the passage of a mass surveillance reauthorization package the following year, and forced some changes to the doomed "repeal and replace" of Obamacare in 2017.

But by the summer of 2018, the Freedom Caucus had morphed into being what Alberta describes as "the most reflexively partisan Republicans on Capitol Hill." The group did virtually nothing to oppose the passage of the 2017 tax bill that was projected to add roughly $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, and it was similarly impotent to stop a massive spending bill passed in early 2018 that effectively locked-in trillion-dollar deficits for the foreseeable future. After the bill passed, members of the House Freedom Caucus did lobby Trump to veto the $1.3 trillion spending plan—and Trump threatened to do so. But he ended up signing the bill anyway, and afterwards, the House Freedom Caucus seemed to lose its ability to influence the White House.

Instead of focusing on fiscal restraint and restoring proper legislative procedure—which was the real reason for the caucus' formation in the first place—members of the House Freedom Caucus became perpetually engaged in the Trump-Russia fight and culture war issues.

Corie Whalen, Amash's former communications director who has also stepped away from Republican politics since leaving the congressman's staff last year, recalls that the House Freedom Caucus seemed to lose its way in the aftermath of the 2018 budget vote. From her perspective, it seemed like the group became increasingly fixated on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"They weren't talking about appropriations; they weren't talking about procedure. They were just out there shilling for the White House," Whalen tells Reason. "That was when they really threw away their leverage."

Publicly, the breaking point between Amash and Trump—or between Amash and the Freedom Caucus, if there is a meaningful difference anymore—came in May of this year, when Amash outlined on Twitter his belief that Trump had engaged in "impeachable conduct" by trying to disrupt Mueller's investigation.

Since then, Amash has been attacked by the president on Twitter and a Trump supporter has announced plans to run against the five-term congressman in 2020 (it's not clear whether Amash plans to run for re-election to the House as an independent).

In one of the most brazen indicators of how the Republican Party is now the House of Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R–Calif.) went on Fox News to claim that Amash "votes more with Nancy Pelosi than he ever votes with me." That's a lie, and an easily proven one. Amash has one of the most conservative voting records in Congress, and holds a nearly perfect lifetime rating from the Club For Growth, a free market group that tracks lawmakers' votes on a wide range of issues. FreedomWorks, another small-government group that similarly scores lawmakers' votes, gives Amash a 100 percent rating.

More lies in the service of Trump.

Behind the scenes, Alberta suggests that the final straw for Amash might have been the Freedom Caucus' unwillingness to stand up to Trump when he attacked a different member of the group. Rep. Mark Sanford (R–S.C.) lost a June 2018 primary election to a Trump-backed challenger, and afterwards, Trump mocked Sanford during a meeting with House Republicans. In a follow-up tweet, Trump embellished the story by claiming House GOPers had "laughed and applauded," Alberta writes, even though none of that was true. In reality, Amash and other Freedom Caucus members spoke up in defense of their colleague—but the group's leaders, including chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R–N.C.), who has now become a key Trump ally in Congress, offered no public rebuke of the president. Shortly after that, Amash stopped going to the group's meetings.

"These guys have all convinced themselves that to be successful and keep their jobs, they need to stand by Trump," Amash tells Alberta in American Carnage. "But Trump won't stand with them as soon as he doesn't need them. He's not loyal. They're very loyal to Trump, but the second he thinks it's to his advantage to throw someone under the bus, he'll be happy to do it."

"It could be Mark Sanford today and Mark Meadows tomorrow," Amash warns in the book.

As it turns out, it was Justin Amash tomorrow. But in a political party where an individual's value is now determined by how far they are willing to go to protect the president, it's pretty likely Amash won't be the last Republican tossed under the bus.

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Begin Trace Mode for Comment # 3.

#2. To: Deckard (#0)

I'm not a Republican, and I am defending Trump, four square. I voted for him for certain things. He has delivered, or tried to and been stopped (by the Republicans during his first two years, now by the Democrats and the Republicans), and I still support him. I'll be voting for him next time.

Republicans need to abandon traditional Republican positions where they disagree with Trump and embrace what Trump stands for: HE'S right, they're wrong.

In his second term, freed of the Mueller malarkey, Trump will make rapid gains in warming the friendship with Russia, which will by itself allow for the settlement of Syria and Iran - they are both more trusting of, or aligned with, Russia - and if we have good relations with Russia, we can rely on Russia to keep the Iranians and Syrians in the sandbox, and with that, you have it: peace in the Middle East for all practical purposes. Everybody wins (or at least does not lose), except for the Palestinians. They lose, because nobody will fight for them anymore.

Peace and amity with Russia will surround China, forcing a general settlement on trade and the China Seas. That issue will be defused.

North Korea, too, will likely be defused.

The Mexican Border is being brought under control and that will continue to be so.

The US economy will continue to boom, giving full employment, and bringing the underclass up considerably due to jobs.

Trump will get another seat or two on the Supreme Court (Ginsberg's, and possibly Thomas's), bringing the Supremes to a 6-3 Republican majority, with 5 pro-lifers on it. The abortion-after-birth laws of New York, etc., will be struck down.

The future looks very bright, and it will be Trump leading it.

The GOP won't be leading it unless they get behind Trump. In fact, if the GOP doesn't abandon their positions, where they conflict with Trump, they will almost guarantee a Democrat successor to Trump.

But if they do get on board, we'll have solid Republican rule for decades, just as we had solid Democrat rule after FDR.

Republicans defending Trump are neither hurting themselves nor the country. They are doing the right thing and FINALLY joining me in the Center.

Vicomte13  posted on  2019-07-18   13:06:47 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: Vicomte13 (#2)

Republicans need to abandon traditional Republican positions where they disagree with Trump and embrace what Trump stands for: HE'S right, they're wrong.

I think they have to know how to approach Trump and they need to be able to offer Trump something in return. And it really helps if Trump has some respect for them as a person.

Rand Paul is a good example. Works with Trump well despite the fact that he attacked Trump in his very first remark at the 2016 Iowa debates. And Trump really blasted him after that. Now? Trump gets along with Rand quite well and they are antiwar buddies and want to move the GOP away from constant warmongering. We saw this in that rather vicious tweet exchange a few days ago. Rand and Lindsey, both playing golf with Trump on a weekend along with Senator David Purdue. Lindsey tries to lecture Trump on how 0bama lost Iraq by withdrawing too hastily. Rand attacked Lindsey's remarks. Trump joined in against the neocon doctrine. Lindsey had to resort to trying to brag that he had lectured Trump about precipitous withdrawals and Rand fired right back at him.

And two days later, Lindsey's worst nightmare came true: Trump is going to let Rand be an informal diplomatic envoy to the Iranian foreign minister. Not a big thing. But it is driving the neocons insane to think of Rand sitting in that room. That maybe Rand will not echo the neocon position into Trump's ear at every turn.

Rand is a bit of a special case though. Rand is a libertarian Republican, like his dad. And Trump certainly grasps how much the GOP establishment hates them. Trump's original desire was to run as a Reform Party candidate; he flirted with this publicly a couple of times. Finally he concluded, as Ron Paul did, that it was just too hard to run third party and that the deck is stacked against third parties by the two establishment parties.

It also helps that Rand dropped out of the 2016 race to run again for his Senate seat, did it early, thoroughly endorsed Trump without reservations, and supports him steadily. Unlike some of the mealymouthed types like Graham who try to toady up to Trump but abandon him to join a chorus of condemnation if Trump tweets something that horrifies the Slimes and WaPo. Rand is not such a fair weather friend as many others in the GOP are.

So Trump probably has a little sympathy for Rand's position in the party because Trump has never been welcomed in the party. Not really. And Trump knows it. Trump also knows that he was pretty antiwar, just as the Pauls were. And Trump does not want to get dragged into a Mideast war, hence his caution in Syria despite his determination to exterminate ISIS in the region (mission accomplished for Trump, BTW, unlike that silly banner on the carrier when GWB flew out to celebrate our great victory and frightened the womenfolk by displaying a flight suit with a padded crotch area).

I think it helps Rand's case that Trump seems to like to listen to a very wide range of ideas and I think Trump is a little suspicious that the GOP establishment would love to find a way to get rid of him so the more malleable Pence could become prez. Trump may also suspect that his resistance to warmongering is so dangerous to the usual neocon warmongers and their lobbyists that they don't mind losing in 2020, just to rid themselves of the danger Trump may post to the neocon agenda of unlimited and unending wars. Again, the Pauls get treated much the same.

Trump's history with the Reform Party still remains an unexplored dimension of his thinking. I've wondered before if Trump got those 70,000 votes he needed in MI/WI/PA from old-time Reform Party people who liked him. And that they might not have turned out for any other GOP candidate at all.

Another mystery is how and why Melania became the first Republican in the Trump family, shortly after she was naturalized. I think Trump was able to vote for himself in 2016 but 3 of his adult children weren't even registered. Melania emigrated to America and chose the GOP, living in a family of Dems. That means something but no one ever explores it. No one ever asks her a question even though she has an interesting history, much more so than the other first spouses since Jackie O. They act like she doesn't exist, even the conservative outlets do this.

Tooconservative  posted on  2019-07-18   15:32:16 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  


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