Establishment Republicans Shoot At Trump -- And Hit Themselves In The Foot
2016 Election: Republicans seem to like nothing more than kicking one of their own when he's down. So it's not entirely surprising that dozens of Republicans decided that now is the time to declare Donald Trump unfit for office. But in doing so, they've made themselves, not Trump, look like idiots.
One reason for the rise of Trump is, arguably, the anger at the fact that so many establishment Republicans refuse to attack Democrats with the same vigor as they attack their own. Now that Trump's poll numbers are slipping and his campaign is in disarray, they are at it once again.
First came a blistering letter signed by 50 officials who've served in various national security capacities in past GOP administrations. "None of us," they said, "will vote for Donald Trump."
They say Trump "lacks character, values and experience," has "little understanding of America's vital national interests" and "lacks the temperament to be president."
Fair enough. We haven't been shy in our criticism of Trump, particularly on foreign policy matters, either.
But many of the examples these erstwhile Republicans provide to back up their decision apply as much to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as to Trump.
The authors complain that "despite his lack of knowledge," Trump "claims that he understands foreign affairs." Yet it was greenhorn Obama who once bragged that "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors."
These Republicans say Trump "appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution ... religious tolerance, freedom of the press." But they ignore the fact that Obama, with Hillary's full knowledge and consent, has spent almost eight years running roughshod over the Constitution, attacking religious freedom and intimidating the press.
They say Trump "persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies." We could devote thousands of words providing examples of Obama committing this sin.
So where were these high-minded Republicans when Obama was running for president and seeking re-election? Where was their blistering attack as Obama's policies led to the decline of U.S. influence abroad, the rise of ISIS, an increasingly aggressive Russia and China, and a soon-to-be nuclear-armed Iran? Their silence was deafening.
And how is it that all these national security experts can bring themselves to say about Hillary Clinton is that they "have doubts" about her?
Trump has serious character flaws, to be sure, but Clinton has an actual record of failure in just about everything she did as secretary of state. And that's to say nothing of the cavalier disregard for national security with her use of an unsecured private email server while at State. Even the head of Obama's FBI admitted that Clinton's recklessness likely put classified information in the hands of our enemies.
If there's anyone who, on national security grounds, is unquestionably disqualified for the highest office, it is Clinton, not Trump. Yet these spineless Republicans are either too afraid or too politically correct to say so.
Next came a statement by Republicans who once headed the EPA and complain that Trump isn't sufficiency liberal when it comes to the environment.
Trump "hasn't a clue about Republicans' historic contributions to science-driven environmental policy," write William Ruckelshaus and William Reilly, who ran the EPA during the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations, respectively.
"We Republicans should be shocked, outraged even, at the prospect that all this progress, this legacy will be repudiated and rolled back by Donald Trump."
This is, to put it charitably, sheer lunacy.
The EPA is the most out-of-control, unaccountable, scientifically unmoored and economically hazardous agency in the federal government. Under Obama, the courts have repeatedly blocked the EPA's lawless power grabs. The latest is its alleged climate-change-fighting "clean power" rule, which the courts put on ice after two dozen states sued to stop it. Republicans should be uniform in calling for this agency to be reined in, not showering it with praise.
Constructive criticism of any candidate is important. But there's a difference between constructive criticism and the tawdry political opportunism on display this week by Republicans who ought to know better.