Republicans keep flocking to Hillary Clinton, despite the best efforts of Fox News and Donald J. Trump to paint her as “crooked” and “crazy,” despite a fake scandal involving stuff she didn’t do wrong during the Benghazi attack, and another focused on her emails, where again, investigations have proved she didn’t do anything wrong.
It is easy to see one big reason for this: Donald Trump. Trump thinks he has Republicans trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea, but many Republicans obviously either think they can swim or that the devil ain’t such a bad guy (or gal, if you’re a Republican).
The Republican Party is literally hemorrhaging voters.
Self-described libertarian author and wit, P.J. O’Rourke, is just the latest luminary to switch ranks. He says, not on account of any change in his own ideological position, but because Hillary Clinton is only the “second worst thing that could happen to this country.” Before you say, well, second worst is pretty bad, O’Rourke puts her “way behind in second place.”
O’Rourke made the announcement on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and from his words you can see the announcement comes complete with all that Fox News manufactured baggage attached to Hillary’s name:
“I’m votin’ for Hillary.
“I am endorsing Hillary. And all her lies and all her empty promises. I am endorsing Hillary. The second worst thing that could happen to this country. But she’s way behind in second place, you know? She’s wrong about absolutely everything – but she’s wrong within normal parameters.”
Normal parameters is the key phrase here. Donald Trump has taken his campaign so far outside normal parameters that we even have a sitting president breaking with tradition and criticizing a candidate.
Donald Trump is far and away the worst thing that could happen, and Trump’s avowed prediction for nuking people is the chief reason O’Rourke gives:
“I mean, this man just can’t be president of the US. I mean, they got this button, it’s in a briefcase, he’s gonna find it.”
Obviously, nobody is worried about Hillary Clinton nuking anybody. And as noted above, O’Rourke is not alone, as even Red State and Daily Caller have rejected Trump and there seems to be a civil war going on at Fox News.
In fact, Hollywood Reporter‘s Michael Wolff appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday and said, “Clearly, I mean the conservative media is now eating itself. The Republican Party is eating itself.”
The GOP is hemorrhaging pundits too. George F. Will and Bill Kristol go without saying, but the ranks of the disaffected now include Erick Erickson, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer – and, of course, Peggy Noonan.
As Fox News’ Howard Kurtz, a Trump apologist, noted on Monday, this matters:
At a time when liberal commentators are outright mocking Trump and the mainstream press is downgrading his chances, the erosion on the right has left him with few defenders. The columnists who might help defuse the political and journalistic bombs being hurled at him instead are firing their own ammunition.
Of course, if Trump is left with few defenders it is because Trump has left those once-defenders with no choice. He is asking them to defend the indefensible. And we have seen Republicans are willing to do this, but we have also discovered they have limits. When Trump attacks long-time Republican positions as well as Democrat, like NATO and nukes, he leaves behind people who are willing to lie about almost everything else.
Asked by an Australian news program in July, “What drives a libertarian Republican to endorse a big government Democrat?” O’Rourke answered,
“Well, you simply can’t have a person with no character, no brains, no ideas, narcissistic personality disorder and we’re lucky if that’s the least of his mental illness problems. That person can’t be President of the United States. You cannot have an unstable person in that job. You can’t have someone who you can’t predict what they’re going to do. I said before, I disagree with Hillary. I disagree with Hillary about everything, but the likelihood that we get any surprises from Hillary is very low.”
Again, it all comes down to Trump’s erratic behavior. O’Rourke may disagree with Hillary ideologically, but she’s “the devil we know” as opposed to Trump’s behavior, which, genuinely insane or not, cannot be predicted. Trump apologists like Kurtz can whine, but this – forcing people like O’Rourke to choose – is something Trump has done to himself.