As honor dwindles, so does hope.
Is hope a descendant of honor?
If if is, perhaps a little hope can be derived from recent statements of members of Congress in response to the lunacy of the GOP candidate for president. Donald “I am your voice” Trump has rashly criticized two Americans who lost their son to combat in a foreign land. Trump did this, apparently, because Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Muslim Americans from Pakistan.
Some Republican members of Congress have repudiated Trump’s remarks.
From Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”
From Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage [the Khans] and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”
From an aide, speaking for House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin: “The speaker has made clear many times that he rejects this idea, and himself has talked about how Muslim Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.”
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is seeking re-election, said the Kahns “deserve to be heard and respected.”
Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, who is seeking re-election, said he was “deeply offended when Donald Trump fails to honor the sacrifices of all of our brave soldiers who were lost in that war.”
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, whose campaign for the GOP presidential nomination sputtered and died:
This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier, even if they criticize you. If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t.
GOP members of Congress have pounced on Trump’s repeated denunciations of the Kahns. I suppose that’s honorable behavior. And I suppose it suggests hope that coherent, intelligent, moral thought would from arise somewhere in the Republican Party. (Note: Democrats are not immune from incoherent, unintelligent, amoral thought.)
But it would be more honorable if GOP congressional critics of Trump’s irrational behaviors had also withdrawn their endorsements of his candidacy and subsequent nomination. But few, if any, have done so.
Why is that?
Jennifer Steinhauer of The New York Times explains:
For congressional Republicans, Mr. Trump’s inflammatory remarks are a vexing challenge. On one hand, they want to distance themselves just enough to try to grab support from voters of both parties who do not intend to vote for Mr. Trump but may split their tickets. But they do not want to outright flip on their prior endorsements of Mr. Trump, because they need his supporters’ votes to win, too. …
Republican leaders believe they need to continue to support Mr. Trump, if only to provide cover for the party’s candidates up for re-election. Republicans struggle to name policy positions of Mr. Trump that they prefer to those of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, but they often settle on their fear of the type of justices a President Clinton would name to the Supreme Court.
In other words, GOP congressional leaders need re-election to retain power in the House and Senate. So they may criticize Trump but won’t rescind endorsements for fear of alienating Trump voters — whose votes members of Congress need.
If you point this out to them, their likely reply: “Hey, I want to be in Congress not for me — I just want to be able to do the business of the American people.”
How much “business of the American people” has Congress accomplished (and Democrats are complicit) in recent years? So far this year, GOP leaders have only accomplished not doing their job — giving a fair hearing and a vote to the duly nominated candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy.
As honor dwindles, so does hope.