By Robert Mann
Donald Trump? The name is familiar. He’s the GOP nominee? Well, I guess I support my party’s nominee. Next question.
That, in essence, is where Louisiana’s courageous GOP leaders stand on the presidential race.
Their nominee is a train wreck. For years, he led a racist crusade that argued President Barack Obama is not an American. People he has degraded include immigrants, Muslims, a Latina beauty pageant winner, Gold Star parents, prisoners of war and the disabled. It appears he hasn’t paid personal income taxes since Bill Clinton was in his first term. His businesses have declared bankruptcy four times. He lost $916 million in 1995 alone.
His favorite policy idea is a border wall that cannot be built and which the Mexicans won’t pay for. He favors a “deportation force” to arrest millions of immigrants. He thinks the world has too few nuclear weapons. He’s a fan of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
But most of Louisiana’s Republican leaders – particularly its congressional delegation – are strangely mute about their party’s nominee. Still, they’ve endorsed him. But don’t expect them to elaborate or defend him or his policies.
With few exceptions, they are cowardly Vichy Republicans who have accommodated Trump not because they admire him, but because they fear his Louisiana supporters. They would rather appease David Duke’s favorite Republican than stand on principle against Trump’s bigotry and misogyny.
Before we go much further, let’s name them so their grandchildren will know where grandpa stood when Trump’s bigotry was on the ballot: U.S. Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy and Reps. Steve Scalise, Charles Boustany, John Fleming, Ralph Abraham and Garret Graves. There’s also Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, state Treasurer John Kennedy, David Duke, Rob Maness and Trump’s erstwhile rival for the GOP nomination, former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Each is on record supporting Trump’s candidacy. But except for Fleming, Maness and Duke (who seem eager to embrace Trump), don’t ask them why. Because Trump is so toxic, these “leaders” must be grateful Louisiana is not a battleground state. They would surely hate to face a decision about whether to campaign with Trump if he showed up for rallies.
In a way, Louisiana Republicans’ endorsement/denial of the churlish bigot resembles the pathetic quandary of Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Watching Tuesday’s debate (Oct. 4) between Pence and the Democratic Party running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, one might have assumed Pence and Trump had never met. At the very least, it was not clear that Pence was familiar with Trump’s many offensive statements and policy stances.
Repeatedly, Pence denied that Trump said this or that outrageous thing. He claimed he and Trump had never praised Putin, although they did. He insisted Trump had never called for “a deportation force,” when his campaign was founded on just such an immigration policy. Pence scoffed at suggestions Trump had insulted Mexicans and women when we’ve heard the insults a hundred times.
Maybe Google isn’t a thing in Indiana, but in the rest of the world reporters and voters used it on Thursday morning to quickly verify that Trump did, in fact, say what Pence denied.
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