Yeah, yeah, okay, I think you all get it at the moment, Trump isn't just digging himself a deep hole, but he's called in a team of bulldozers. And Republicans can try to spin the Russia bounty story all they want, but Trump has lost the news cycle on this. His cult base may still think he got it covered and that it's all just a big hoax, but the bulldozers have dug a moat around them all, it's filled with water, and the rest of the country understands it's a horrible story whether Trump knew or didn't. And the problem for Trump in getting out of it is that it relies on people believing you, and he lost his credibility points long ago.
And that's even before the A.P. came out with a new story that apparently Trump was informed about this Russian bounty a year earlier than the New York Times reported. And to even make that worse -- and yes, it can get worse -- is that the person who has been telling his colleagues that he personally briefed Trump about it was... okay, wait for it...John Bolton.
So, yeah, Trump has lost the news cycle on this story. And it's a big story. Massive, striking at the heart of what most Americans hold dear, protecting the military. So, it's a story that is likely to be one of those that lasts. Moreover, Republicans have long-held a strong advantage in elections with support by the military. Trump's military support in 2016 over Hilary Clinton was 60-34%, But with this Russian bounty story on soldiers and with all the generals who recently spoke out so strongly against Trump, it will be interesting to see if there is any erosion in that long-held GOP military support. And any change doesn't even have to give Biden the majority. Or even shift a lot, for that matter. But with 26 points to play with, there is a lot of wiggle room, and if only five points gets cut from the 2016 margin, that's hugely significant because being as far being in the polls as Trump is right now, he can't afford to lose support from anywhere. But especially from voters he and Republicans count strongly on and never thought they'd have to focus any attention and money on. Especially the possibly of losing as much as a paltry five points . Let alone more than that. Because the U.S. military is a Really Big Special Interest Group.
And you know there will be an investigation in the House. There should be in the Senate, too, though there likely won't be. But it points all Republicans in Congress into a corner -- whether to defend Trump on such an emotional issue bordering on arguably traitorous action or dangerous incompetence for which he's lost the news cycle, or come down on the side of their long-time military support and U.S. defense and be critical.
All in the middle of a pandemic. And 47 million Americans filing for unemployment. And businesses going bankrupt. And the economy in trouble. And social change protest across the country so deep that even the Mississippi state legislature voted almost 3-to-1 change the Confederate symbol in the flag.
And the best Republicans can do is flail. Almost quite literally.
Yesterday, that ace suck-up Matt Gaetz (R-FL) posted the following tweet and photo --
When I initially saw this, my first response was that, okay, I can play that game, too -- "In Matt Gaetz's America, boot-jack stormstroopers rule your town, the government can take your children whenever they want, and minorities no longer have any rights."
Of course, the difference is that I openly admit I'm making exaggerations up. While Matt Gaetz wants you to believe what he's saying is true.
But then I realized that Matt Gaetz doesn't seem to understand the utter, mind-numbing stupidity of his tweet. Doesn't seem to grasp that the photo he attached not only has absolutely nothing to do with Joe Biden, and is literally of TRUMP'S America. In his blind, empty thoughtlessness to play up to Trump, Gaetz overlooked that the people in this photo aren't posing for an election ad, but instead the picture is very real and the people are very real Americans today, in a news photo, holding guns on other Americans right now who are peacefully protesting for social justice for Black Americans.
Gaetz didn't seem to get that this photo is not "all of us." These are Trump supporters. In Trump's America.
And it's not a good look. Especially during a pandemic. When you're being painted as a traitor in a news cycle you lost. And are losing by 8-14 points.
But this is the best that Trump and his acolytes (with an emphasis on the "light") have to play with.
And that's why when it's not just about Trump but all the elected Republicans who enable him, have blood on their hands and are complicit, they have nowhere to hide. And an empty hand of cards to play with. And we can see their cards.
Yes, they'll try dirty tricks and voter suppression. But even that can be seen by everyone.
And if Democrats are understandably wary because of what's at stake...imagine how terrifying it must be for Republicans.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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