In a Memorial Day column for the Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes that it is time for Republicans to quit pretending Donald Trump is fit to be president and that his latest unacceptable behavior should be the tipping point for any honest lawmaker.
Under a headline that pointedly asks, "Can we stop pretending Trump is fit to be president?" the liberal columnist began, "At various times over the past three and a half years, many of us have asked what would happen if President Trump truly went over the edge or if his behavior became so frightening that his unfitness for the most powerful position on Earth could no longer be denied."
According to Waldman, Trump's actions, particularly on Twitter over the Memorial Day weekend, provided all the evidence anyone would need to see that the president is in over his head and is cracking under pressure.
"With the death toll from covid-19 about to top 100,000, Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of tributes to the dead, sympathy for their families, or acknowledgement of our national mourning ... This week he went golfing," he wrote. " In a Twitter spasm on Saturday and Sunday, Trump retweeted mockery of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s weight and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) looks, along with a tweet calling Hillary Clinton a 'skank'. He all but accused talk show host Joe Scarborough of murdering a young woman who died in 2001 in the then-congressman’s district office, bringing untold torture to her family from the conspiracy theorists who will respond to his accusation."
Using those incidents at a springboard, he stated his case.
"The truth is that Trump is not much more despicable of a human being than he has always been; it’s just that standard Trumpian behavior becomes more horrifying when it occurs during an ongoing national crisis. It is reality that changed around him, and he was incapable of responding to it," he explained. "In public, Republicans may say that the real villain in the pandemic is China, or that all those deaths — and the tens of thousands yet to come — were inevitable, or that it is essential to get the economy moving. But they know as well as the rest of us do what a catastrophic failure Trump has been. They must own the moral choice they now make."
"If you gave many Republicans in Washington truth serum, they’d say, 'Of course he’s unfit to be president. Of course he’s corrupt, of course he’s incompetent, of course he’s the most dishonest person ever to step into the Oval Office. But I can live with that, because him being reelected means Republicans keep power, we get more conservative judges and we get all the policies we favor,'" he accused. "That is the choice they’re making. We all know it, even if they’ll never say it out loud."
According to the columnist, once Trump is gone, Republicans who stood by while he bumbled and fumbled his way through his presidency shouldn't be given a pass because they have been complicit.
"In the future, when we look back on this dark period, we should resist the temptation to focus solely on Trump himself. To do so would be to excuse those who know exactly what he is but pretend they can work to keep him in office and remain unsullied," he wrote. "They cannot, and their moral culpability becomes clearer every day."
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