News & Politics

Are Republicans Really Ready to Distance Themselves From Trump?

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

It’s getting closer to November 3, which means we’re due for another round of “GOP deserts Trump” stories. The Los Angeles Times declares, “As Trump’s fortunes sink, Republicans start to distance themselves in bid to save Senate.” NBC News observes, “‘The president is likely toast’: Trump’s woes raise GOP fears of a blue wave.”

And Politico headlines its GOP hit piece, “Republicans are finally ready to diss Don” with the subhead, “The president’s grip on the party is loosening amid a coronavirus backlash and fears of an electoral bloodbath.”

Each of these pieces is an exercise in creative writing, not journalism. The idea of the GOP walking away from the president of the United States and leader of their party less than a month before the election is beyond absurd. It’s loony.

For Republicans, fearful of a possible electoral disaster just weeks away, it has become safe at last to diss Donald Trump — or at least to distance themselves from him in unmistakably purposeful ways.

A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.

The notion that any candidate of any party now trying to appear “independent” three weeks before the election is ignorant. And any candidates who try to “distance themselves” from Trump at this late stage is going to lose — guaranteed.

Trump has been receiving criticism from Republicans since he walked into office. The president has often taken to Twitter to chastise those who criticize him. Trump has a notoriously thin skin, but to suggest that Republican candidates don’t fear his wrath anymore because they want to show their “independence” to the folks back home doesn’t get much dumber in the political analysis industry.

Whose mind is going to be changed by this 11th-hour anti-Trump conversion? How many voters are really going to notice?

Indeed, the authors sort of walk back their entire thesis by admitting the “distancing” and shows of “independence” amount to nothing at all.

This is far from an insurrection. Republicans in the main aren’t outright repudiating Trump. But they are effectively rolling their eyes in exasperation with him, and especially his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

They’re not “repudiating” Trump but they’re trying to “distance” themselves from him?

GOP regulars are always “exasperated” with Trump because he doesn’t follow the script. He doesn’t play the political games they want him to play. Trump is always running off inventing his own games or creating new rules for the old ones. He has done that since 2016 and will continue to do it in 2020, win or lose.