Democracy Dies in Darkness


Want to know why the GOP elites have put up with Trump? Now you know.

September 28, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Yes, of course, any Republicans who still have the capacity for embarrassment are embarrassed by President Trump. Embarrassment is an easy virtue. It resides in the tut-tut category of social niceties. The wealthy do not prefer to think of themselves as tawdry, and well, just what is to be done about that Trump fellow?

Well, nothing is to be done about that Trump fellow. Not just yet anyway. Because while a few Republicans may have a lingering susceptibility to embarrassment, none still have the capacity for shame. They have made their deal with the Donald, and the deal is the deal that they will make with anyone. Tax cuts for the rich. And this week … voilà!

This ongoing, gnawing, single-minded lust for more money lies at the root of it, of course. If you need an organizing principle to explain all the many peculiar and nasty elements of the GOP donor class, it is this unquenchable need for still-greater riches that ties it all together, from their comfort with outright dishonesty to their willingness to vacillate wildly on so-called matters of principle, such as concern about deficits and respect for the mechanisms of democratic government. They are even willing to preside over the disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious, viable political entity if that’s what it takes to eke out one final tax cut, in what is looking like their last, best chance to get it.

And after laying waste to the executive branch, to civilized behavior, to global leadership, to the health and stability of the environment, Trump at last stands there, with their tax cuts in hand. As they knew he eventually would. Heck, his facility at lies and distraction might even be an asset here. Definitely worth all the risks to the nation to find out.

So tote up the features of this tax cut. It is based on a now long-discredited “theory” about tax cuts paying for themselves, standing atop pillars of nonsense about how it will affect the economy, cross-braced with fabricated assurances about whom it benefits, and wrapped in a cloak of vagueness that will not be lifted, it is hoped, until the deed is nearly done. And the consequences? They get their money, and you get to worry about those consequences.

If the result is a broken government without sufficient resources or comity or honest, dedicated people left to act in the interests of the broader public interest ever again, so much the better. Because the other idea they like almost as much as tax cuts for themselves is a crippled, withered government. Because at the end of their day, those are practically the same thing.

Tom Toles is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. His latest book is "The Madhouse Effect," a book about climate and climate-change denial co-authored with climate scientist Michael Mann.

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