The twice-impeached former president has drawn one defender after another into his corruption, but The Atlantic's Mark Leibowitz said the Mar-a-Lago debacle has been particularly embarrassing for Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who really ought to know better.
"Trump has a knack for making his most committed apologists look like complete imbeciles — even if they are not complete imbeciles, though many of them are," Leibowitz writes. "This has been true for several years. But in recent weeks, Trump’s trickle-down idiocy has become a significant midterm-election issue for Republicans, and a drag on some of the party’s most vulnerable Senate candidates."
Rubio, who's facing a re-election challenge from Rep. Val Demmings, recently dismissed the classified documents Trump stashed at his Florida resort as a mere "storage issue," but Leibowitz said the spectacle felt even sadder this time than the once fiercely anti-Trump senator's previous attempts to cover his misdeeds.
"Rubio’s self-correction to Made MAGA Man apparently compelled him to downplay Trump’s frightful conduct, even though it was something he obviously would have screamed bloody murder about if Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton had done the same," Leibowitz writes.
"As the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rubio is clearly aware of this," Leibowitz adds. "But he’s been playing this game for a while, and he knew what was required of him. He spoke in his usual rat-a-tat of righteously rehearsed lines, and he did not appear to be having much fun. In fact, Rubio sounded miserable, as he often does when called upon to defend Trump’s indefensibles. He seemed to fully anticipate scorn and ridicule raining down."
Trump-endorsed candidates Mehmet Oz and J.D. Vance are also facing problems in their campaigns due to their deference to the former president, whose lies are being continuously exposed by a widening net of criminal investigations.
"We’ve gotten so used to the Trickle-Down-Idiocy Effect that it no longer engenders surprise, let alone outrage," Leibowitz writes. "It goes well beyond candidates having to perpetrate lies or offer preposterous explanations such as 'storage issue,' 'alternative facts,' 'normal tourist visit,' and whatnot. Trump’s reckless claims and behaviors have led his dependents into a minefield of topics that, in previous campaign cycles, would likely never have come up, let alone be so fraught."