Do you remember George W. Bush? President for eight years, oversaw the destruction of two countries, was a big fan of baseball and also the expansion of the surveillance state? Loves to paint dogs.
Well, Bush was a Republican, and until very recently, most Republicans didn’t want you to remember that. After watching the love for Barack Obama at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, National Review writer and almost-presidential candidate David French wrote a column lambasting his party for not respecting Bush in the same way:
Watching the adulation heaped on Barack Obama last night, I was reminded of the shameful way the GOP — and the conservative movement more broadly — has treated George W. Bush. The last Republican to win a national election has become an object of scorn and mockery in many quarters of the Republican world.
The reason even “establishment” Republicans don’t bring Bush up much—except when they claim that at least he was better than Trump—is obvious: he was an embarrassment. Bush was a horrible president who gave way to Obama, the Tea Party, and—eventually—Donald Trump. Republicans forget his time in office because acknowledging his existence means admitting failure.
So who’s to say they can’t do it again? Here’s a preview of what amnesia in the post-Trump Republican Party will look like, courtesy of GOP strategist and anti-Trump CNN pundit Ana Navarro:
This, of course, is bullshit. Trump may care only about himself and his money, but this is nothing unique when it comes to the ultra-wealthy Republicans who run the party. It’s their defining feature.
What Navarro is likely hoping will happen in the wake of Trump (whether he leaves office at the end of four years or eight years or is forcibly dragged from the Oval Office kicking and screaming) is that he will be a pariah in the Republican Party—or, better yet, that he’ll be seen as a Nixonesque national nightmare that we’re all eager to forget.
While you can’t fault Navarro for trying, it would be a tremendously stupid mistake if we actually fell for this.
Trump is not only a Republican, he was the choice of a clear majority of Republican voters in the Republican primary. He won the presidential election running on the Republican ticket. He is the first president since Gerald Ford whose Cabinet solely consists of members of his own party, the Republican Party, whose leadership in Congress enabled Trump as a candidate and cosigned most of his terrible proposals as president.
He is a monster of the party’s own making. And when it comes time to assign blame for his crimes, the Republican Party should be at the very top of the list.