Taking his cue from a highly criticized Newsweek column that suggested that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) might not be legally eligible to serve as vice president, Donald Trump gave it some credence on Thursday -- and that could be damaging to Republicans if they remain silent and don't push back, wrote a CNN political analyst.
According to CNN's Chris Cillizza, the president has reached into his 2016 "birther" playbook to attack Harris because he seemed unprepared for her candidacy and, after being criticized for playing the birther card on former President Barack Obama, it's not going to fly with a public that has grown wise to his racist attacks.
"Shame on Trump," the analyst wrote. "But anyone who acts surprised that the President was willing to push a lie about his political opponents into the public space has been residing on another planet over the last four-plus years. This is who Trump is and what he does. Birtherism is, literally, how he got his start in politics."
While Trump's comments will do little to turn off his base, which MSNBC analyst Donny Deutsch described as being made up of "racists" on Friday morning, Cillizza said it won't go over well with mainstream Republicans who will be unhappy if the GOP leadership doesn't disavow the president's latest racist dog-whistle.
Writing that the real story will end up being "the silence of the Republican establishment and its elected leaders" the analyst added, "it's that silence, and the tacit acceptance that 'Trump is Trump,' that will define the GOP long after Trump leaves office -- whether involuntarily in 2021 or four years later. The willingness to simply swallow known falsehoods or dismiss them with a 'I didn't see the President's remarks' or 'I'm sorry, I have to get to a meeting' is what will, ultimately, do the lasting damage for a Republicans."
Saying that failure to adhere to basic principles is "how parties die,"Cillizza wrote the Republican Party has lost all credibility since it became "a cult of personality" surrounding Trump.
"Its devotion to balanced budgets and reducing the debt load on future generations? Gone. Its commitment to block attempts by a president to run the country by executive orders and end-runs around Congress? Gone. Its fealty to family values, as it relates to marriage and extramarital affairs? Gone. Its support for international trade agreements? Gone," he charged.
While noting the candidacy of Marjorie Taylor Greene as a Republican House nominee in Georgia despite being a full-fledged conspiracy crank, Cillizza said the Republican Party leaders have only themselves to blame for the takeover of the party by Trump and people like Greene.
"If QAnon supporters can rightly lay claim to being a part of the Republican Party, then what does it actually mean to be a Republican anymore? Especially when the party's leader regularly breaks with long-held principles that stood as pillars for the entire GOP tent, and regularly engages in the racist, xenophobic attacks designed solely to improve his own political position?" he wrote before warning, "The reality Republicans face is this: A party without any principles isn't a party at all."
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