The June 8 Comey hearing was the latest opportunity for Republicans to show some minimal amount courage when it comes to dealing with Donald Trump. Here was an opportunity to really explore the issue of a hostile foreign power interfering with our election, and the idea that they may have had assistance from one of the campaigns. When foreign powers attack the United States, that’s a big deal. It is a time when we should all band together and put country ahead of party.
“Should” being the operative word.
Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans have shown a near-complete absence of political courage when it comes to standing up to Donald Trump. Let’s have a look back.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage during the campaign, when Trump spouted racist, xenophobic, and bigoted filth every single day. They did not.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage when Trump bragged on tape about being a serial sexual predator. They did not.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage when Trump tried to follow through on racist campaign promises like the Muslim Ban. They did not.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage when President Trump lied about rampant voter fraud. They did not.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage any of the times Trump threatened to jail reporters for doing their job. They did not.
Congressional Republicans could have shown courage when Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates. They did not.
The damage has been done. President Trump is flouting norms and laws with reckless abandon. He is damaging relationships with allies. He is burning spies who are helping in the fight against ISIL. He is literally making out country less safe, less secure, and less free.
We all knew that Trump lacked the temperament to be President. Over and over again in the campaign, he proved that he is incapable of doing the job. Yet throughout the campaign, Republicans lined up behind him, putting their own dignity and integrity on the line for Donald Trump.
It seems that the more Congressional Republicans aligned themselves with Trump, the harder it was for them to speak out. Yet when it comes to issues of foreign powers attacking the heart of our Democracy, maybe, just maybe, some courage would emerge. In a time of crisis, surely some leaders will step up.
After Trump gave sensitive intel to his Russian pals while desperately trying to shut down the FBI’s Russia investigation through any means necessary, Republicans grudgingly held a hearing with fired FBI Director James Comey. But rather than seek information on the relevant topics at hand, GOP Senators spent an inordinate amount of time beating the long-dead horse of “but her emails!”
The media searches for Republicans to show even the most miniscule amount of tepid independence. Rather than any substantive action, all we get are mealy-mouthed press releases citing vague notions of being “concerned.” To label such action “courage” is an insult to the English language.
No press release contains enough “concerned” rhetoric to erase months of rubber-stamping every one of Trump’s cabinet nominees while sitting in silence as Trump shreds democratic norms and parades around as if he is above the law.
Yes, I hope that we get to the truth about what Trump did, how deeply his campaign was embedded with Russian adversaries, and how far President Trump went to try to cover it up.
And I hope that GOP leadership belatedly decides to put country ahead of party.
But no matter what Republicans in Congress do now, there is no cleaning agent powerful enough to wash off the feckless cowardice of the past year. That stain will remain forever, reminding Americans today, tomorrow, and forever that in a time of crisis, there were no Republican heroes.