By Robert Mann
There will come a time, probably after the Nov. 8 presidential election, when prominent Louisiana Republicans will express their disgust with the GOP’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
People like U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves and most of the Republicans running for Sen. David Vitter’s Senate seat (except for David Duke) will tell us how much they hated Trump’s repulsive, bigoted rhetoric.
They will acknowledge that their party blew any chance to defeat Hillary Clinton by refusing to nominate someone rational, sane and non-racist, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They’ll confess how much they agonized over the amateurish race that Trump ran.
All of this and more will likely come spilling out in tortured admissions from these “leaders” and others – all of it after the election is over.
Every week – sometimes every day – a leading Republican denounces Trump. On Monday, it was Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and 50 prominent military and national security experts.
Some Republicans have opposed Trump from the beginning. Others, like Collins, are bailing out near the end. Some, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, appear to be along for the duration, despite early reservations about Trump.
Collins joined a handful of Republican senators who have said for months that they won’t vote for Trump. Dozens of top GOP officials and strategists, including Stuart Stevens, a senior Mitt Romney advisor from the 2012 campaign, have condemned him.
Romney has opposed Trump for months. Former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush remain on the sidelines, neither endorsing nor condemning Trump.
As the polls continue to suggest that the Trump ship is going down, more Republicans will continue to jump overboard – or tell us they were never on the ship in the first place.
One day very soon, denouncing Trump will no longer be an act of courage or conscience.
Denouncing a person whom virtually every sensible person believes will lose disastrously is no act of valor; at that point, it is just a craven act of self-preservation, a rewriting of history or embarrassing evidence that you’re willing to oppose Trump only when there are no consequences.
In other words, such people will not simply disavow Trump; they will expose themselves as cowards.
It takes little courage to tell us what we already know – that Trump is a bigot who will complete the destruction of the Republican Party, salting the fields as he stumbles on his way to a loss that might rival Lyndon Johnson’s crushing win over Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Of course, I understand why leaders like Cassidy and Scalise dare not denounce Trump. They know their base of support is almost unanimously supporting him. They fear alienating those voters. They fear they might be seen as traitors to the Republican cause if they bail on Trump. They fear what might happen at the next election.
They fear. They are afraid. They will wait until after the election to tell us everything that was wrong with their party’s presidential nominee.
Truth be told, it’s not politically wise for leading Louisiana Trump supporters, like Cassidy and Scalise, to disavow him. It’s not like Trump will need to campaign in Louisiana, relieving them of the indignity of sharing a stage with the Orange Man.
Who knows, they might actually agree with much of Trump’s platform, although their silence about him (beyond their initial endorsement) is instructive. Better to remain silent, hide behind your measly endorsement of Trump and hope everyone forgets about it.
But these men did endorse Trump. That is undeniable. So, don’t expect them to bail on Trump soon, if ever.
Do expect them to tell us everything that was wrong with their nominee sometime after Nov. 8.
When they do, remember there is no valor in warning other Republicans about Trump after he has lost and taken their party down with him.
It’s one thing to shrink from opposing Trump because you think he’s a bad candidate; it’s another thing entirely to shrink from opposing a racist and bigot because you think it’s bad for your political future.
That’s called moral cowardice.
These “leaders” might call their post-election statements about Trump pragmatic, clear-headed political analysis. But we will know what it is.
Some day, to their shame, their children and grandchildren will, too.