The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Donald Trump is terrible. Good thing there’s this ‘nominee’ guy!

Whoever this is, it’s not the Nominee. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Donald Trump is a problem.

He has a 65 percent unfavorable rating. He is prone to firing off unexpectedly at the mouth. He either doesn’t understand or actively wants to destroy the credit of the United States. If you’re a senator running for reelection and his name shows up at the top of the ticket, you might as well tie an albatross around your neck and head out to sea.

So what to do? Speaking Trump’s name gives him power. He is like Voldemort in that regard. (Also, he is immortal and cannot die as long as his Towers survive. His buildings are his horcruxes and contain fragments of his soul.)

The trick is not to speak his name.

But fortunately for senators in tough, competitive seats, there is another option. You don’t have to endorse Trump. You can just support the Nominee of the Party.

These are not the same thing at all! They are quite different. The Nominee is everything Trump isn’t.

Here’s Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) talking about Trump: “I have strong disagreements with Mr. Trump.”

Here’s McCain talking about the Nominee: “The nominee of the party, the party of Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt, has my support.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) won’t endorse Trump. In February, she said, “There’s no place in our society for racism and bigotry, and I found Mr. Trump’s response to David Duke and the KKK disgusting and offensive.” But she will support the nominee. Her communications director, Liz Johnson, confirmed as much to the New Hampshire Union Leader. “As she’s said from the beginning, Kelly plans to support the nominee.”

It is good that there is this third option. The Nominee sounds wonderful.

He seems to have a strong base of support. Senators who have nothing positive to say about Trump at all speak glowingly of the mysterious Nominee.

Very little is known about him, apart from the fact that he is probably statesmanlike and definitely not embarrassing to have at the top of the ticket, and probably Reagan would have liked to have a beer with him, or something, but what more do you need to know?

Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed first noted the groundswell of support for this Nominee guy among high-ranking senators during a KTAR Arizona radio interview with McCain, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). The Nominee, McCain confirmed, has his support. Trump, not so much. “I’m not comfortable with a lot of the things that he has done,” McCain noted.

Sullivan concurred. “There’s a number of things I don’t agree with in terms of what Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail,” he said on the same show. “Some of his rhetoric, some of his policy, certainly some of his instincts on national security and foreign policy.”

But fortunately, Sullivan has another choice. “I plan on supporting the Republican nominee. At this time.”

Cotton concurred. “I’ve long said that I will support the Republican nominee because we can’t afford a third Obama-Clinton term.”

The Nominee of the Party sounds like a rational guy. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — who is “not ready” to support Trump — had compliments for the Nominee. “We hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln or Reagan-esque,” Ryan observed.

Lincoln or Reagan-esque? Wow! What a high bar.

This “nominee” character sounds almost as good as that Never Trump fellow. (Whatever happened to him, by the way?)

“Senator McCain, we already know that you’re supporting Trump, but are you endorsing Trump?” the KTAR hosts asked.

“I’m supporting the nominee of the party,” McCain responded. “I’m telling you the answer and that is, I’m supporting our nominee.”

Given the choice of Donald Trump and the Nominee of the Republican Party, these senators would support the Nominee of the Party, hands down.

If they turn out to be the same person, this is going to be very uncomfortable.