New York Times columnist Frank Bruni issued a kind of political eulogy for the respectability of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has surrendered his morals along with many other appointees of President Donald Trump.
In a Sunday op-ed, Bruni noted that he doubts Pompeo even likes Trump all that much, given his background at West Point. Trump's medical forms were allegedly falsified to say he has bone spurs, which prevented him from being drafted into Vietnam.
"Pompeo is an evangelical Christian, steeped in the very dictums that Trump has spent a lifetime mocking with both his words and his deeds," wrote Bruni. "And Pompeo has long believed in the importance of American military intervention abroad, the kind of activist role that Trump railed against during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination."
Pompeo not only didn't support Trump for president, he "sounded an alarm that Trump would be “an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution," according to a New Yorker profile in August by Susan Glasser.
But instead of joining the few Republicans willing to fight for the soul of America, Pompeo "put on a clown suit, put away his ethics and finagled a big role under the Big Top," wrote Bruni.
Pompeo is simply one of many Republicans who have joined "the teeming crowd of sellouts and suck-ups who eagerly traded principle for position and are in some cases doubling and tripling down on that transaction, to a point where it’s fair to ask if there was ever much principle to begin with," Bruni continued, specifically citing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"Hell, I’m looking at most of the Republicans in the Senate," Bruni wrote. "I’m not so much looking at Attorney General William Barr, odious as his behavior has been, because it’s clear in retrospect that he never made much of a pretense of rectitude, at least not in the context of Trump. He also wasn’t on record trashing Trump, not the way Pompeo and Graham and so many others who now dutifully echo him and gaze beatifically at him were. They must have broken necks from their moral whiplash. Barr’s neck supports that big head of his just fine."
Pompeo was happy to recall the respected ambassador of Ukraine to put in a bigger Trump ally. He listened in on the notorious July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine and pretended like he knew nothing.
"In Greece on Saturday, he proudly portrayed the Trump administration’s approach to Ukraine as a high-minded vigil against corruption and an attempt to ensure against interference in American elections," Bruni wrote. "In the process, he gave fresh currency to a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential race."
Trump has decided he can discount the entire Russia investigation by creating a story about Ukraine helping Hillary Clinton in 2016. If Pompeo spoke up about what he heard on the Ukraine call, he would likely lose his cushy throne on a private jet as he travels around the world.
Bruni compared it to the story of Faust, who sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune. But it's also the story that has played out over and over again since the beginning of Trump's presidency. Pompeo isn't the first and he certainly won't be the last.
Your soul is the "fee for being able to get the president on the phone, for being invited to play golf with him, for feeling the rush of access, for crowing about your perch at the epicenter of the action," Bruni closed. "He and Pompeo will have insider anecdotes to last the rest of their lives. They’ll need just as long to convince themselves that they didn’t overpay."