It's the second week of June and Republicans in Congress are already fully committed to writing this presidential election off and trying to save their own hides.
All delusions about Trump settling into Mature Campaign Mode and sticking to the teleprompter have been crushed brutally; in the first week after he promised to behave, he made a trainwreck of a response to the Orlando massacre, implied that Barack Obama is somehow involved with ISIS, and doubled down on his "Let's round up the Muslims" talk. Republicans in elected office literally cannot go one day without being asked to comment on something new and idiotic he said. And they're already crying uncle: a laundry list of prominent House and Senate Republicans – Cornyn, Barrasso, Tim Scott, Bob Corker, and many more have declared that they will no longer respond to questions about the statements of their own party's nominee. Two of the longest-serving Senate Republicans, Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander, chose to pretend they haven't heard any of Trump's statements or that Trump isn't actually the party's nominee, respectively. Two months out from the convention, it's already Every Man for Himself.
As I've said all along, regardless of the Democratic nominee we are going to see Trump destroyed by historic margins this November. He has a core of really loud, really enthusiastic supporters – and everyone else hates him. His poll numbers are abysmal. Trump is currently tied with Hillary Clinton in Utah. UTAH. The state that provided the largest GOP margin of victory in every presidential election since 2000. Even Red State, of all sources, is alarmed by his terrible poll numbers.
What we're seeing now is Republicans slowly coming to grips with the reality that this is it. This is how he's going to be for the entire campaign, unless he gets even worse. And they're shifting into survival mode. One invariant characteristic of elected officials is self-interest, and it is dawning on congressional Republicans that Trump is a disaster of the magnitude that could pull the entire party down with him – and certainly more than a few current GOP incumbents. One of the lifeboats is pulling down the entire ship and everyone is rushing to cut it loose. These people might be dumb but they're not stupid, and they're certainly adept at looking out for #1. Not one of these people like Donald Trump; they don't owe him anything, and they all realize clearly that Trump would not stop to spit on them if they were in flames. Trump is not one of them. He is an interloper. I have no sympathy for them, as they created the forces that made Trump possible, and it is gratifying to watch them scramble to avoid the fallout now. Metaphors about reaping and sowing come to mind.
The eagerness with which his co-partisans are rushing to distance themselves from Trump says more than any poll between today and November will about the outcome. It's too bad Sanders couldn't pull it out, because any Democratic nominee could crush this guy. This is not a blog one comes to expecting to feel better about the human condition after reading, but here's your optimism for the year: Americans recognize this for what it is. Not all of us, of course, but more than enough to ensure that Trump's candidacy is the disaster it was meant to be.