Opinion writer

"We’re in a critical moment. The number of conservatives who I have talked to in the last day, who worked on the campaign, who supported the president, who now say, ‘You know what, I regret doing that, this was a mistake, this administration is, you know, off the rails. All of these investigations that are coming to a head are going to be a huge problem,’” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said on CNN.

Now, I have no idea whether the conservatives Haberman is quoting include Republican office holders, but regardless they sure do owe we in the #NeverTrump movement an awful big apology. It was not like we didn’t warn them that Trump was unfit for the presidency, lawless, narcissistic, unwilling to learn, erratic, irrational and cruel. We pretty much told them they’d be intellectually and morally corrupted in trying to defend him. (Watching former Iran hawks try to justify bugging out of Syria, leaving Iran and Russia to claim the spoils would be amusing if it were not so depressing. Note to file: Moving the Israeli embassy was a gesture; this puts Israel and our other Middle East neighbors at risk.) It would be nice if these now remorseful Republicans spoke up.

One thinks back to the anonymous op-ed writer in the New York Times who proclaimed that “there are adults in the room.” Let’s hope they were not only referring to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, former White House counsel Donald McGahn, outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley or former attorney general Jeff Sessions. (That isn’t a list of people whose views I agree with, just those with a modicum of self-awareness and regard for the country). Which are the adults, who remain?


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walks to the Senate floor after meeting with President Trump at the White House, as deadlines for a federal government shutdown loom on Dec. 21, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

They have things under control, the anonymous aide told us. Sure, Trump kowtows to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but “the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.” Uh, which one of the president’s minders was supposed to prevent debacles like the pullout from Syria? Which one was supposed to stop the trade war? To keep the debt from ballooning? To avoid another government shutdown?

The self-appointed protector of the republic concluded that op-ed with a call to “break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.” What a great idea. Republicans could start by supporting a clean continuous resolution to keep the government running rather than giving Trump cover. It would demand legislative protection for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III instead of cowering before the president. It would declare in a unified voice that any crime by a president is serious and a president does not enjoy immunity from an obstruction of justice charge in perpetuity if he interferes with an investigation of himself and cronies, makes false statements and tries to bribe cooperating witnesses with promises of pardon.

Unfortunately, the Republicans who lacked character and judgment to oppose Trump, vilified his critics and enabled Trump for almost two years don’t have the nerve even to identify themselves.

Senate and House Republicans are still in the Trump cult. If they wanted to, they could pass a clean CR by a huge margin and then override Trump’s veto. That they won’t even vote on such a measure tells us they must not be all that regretful.