I have, more than once this campaign season, referenced the exchange between the Duke of Norfolk and Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. In it, the Duke pleads with his friend More to just go along to get along and accept Henry VIII’s marriage. More declines and the Duke, exasperated, tells More that all his friends are doing it and none of them really mean it. They just don’t want to lose their heads. “I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!” says the Duke.”
More replies, “And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?”
It is relevant again this morning because of a Huffington Post article wherein exasperated members of the Republican Establishment, men and women who will not even admit an establishment exists, decry their fellow establishment members who will not support Trump. They are, like Bill Bennet and others, accusing their fellow Republicans who will not get on the Trump Train of “moral preening.”
If you are a Republican who does not support Donald Trump the two accusations hurled at you are that you are playing at being morally superior and also that you are profiting by your opposition. The latter is almost assuredly not true. There is far more money in it for those supporting Trump and they do not have to worry about harassment of their families or, in my business, advertisers. But the former, the claim of moral superiority, sounds a lot like the Duke of Norfolk’s remarks. By not selling out to Trumpism, these Republicans are making the sell outs look like, well, sell outs.
It has nothing to do with the moral superiority of the anti-Trump Republicans and everything to do with exposing the shallow convictions of those Republicans who have gotten on board the Trump Train. How do we know? Well, because of this from the article:
“Our majorities are at stake and there is so much more to being part of the team than voting for the White House,” said Sam Geduldig, a former senior aide to then-Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and now a lobbyist with the CGCN Group. “I’m certain Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would prefer that the Never Trump supporters would put more effort into retaining the House and Senate.”
Geduldig hastened to add that his criticism was reserved for the foot soldiers of the Never Trump movement, rather than its financial backers, who have also given generously to the Republican Party.
So a lobbyist is upset at the low men on the totem pole, but wants to make sure that the people with money know he has no issue with them because they have money.
But then there is this:
One establishment Republican, who like Geduldig is a former aide to House GOP leadership, said that many of the defectors had already defected.
Another member of the GOP establishment, who also offered his criticism anonymously, called the public parade of conscience “commercial self-interest masquerading as ideological purity.”
A fourth Washington Republican, who is voting for Trump but doing so quietly, lamented…
…said one senior Republican who also plans to vote for Trump, but won’t be writing an op-ed about.
So with the expection of one
whore lobbyist who wants to make it clear he specifically has nothing against the financial backers of the anti-Trump movement, just the lowly non-Trump Republican voter who is not putting his money where his mouth is, not a single other pro-Trump Republican was willing to go on the record in support of Trump.
They all want to accuse their establishment brethren of moral preening, but are too ashamed of their own support for Trump to go on the record. That sounds very Duke of Norfolk. They do not want to be exposed, after November, for having voted for this braying jackass. Come November 9, they will all be talking about how they knew he’d lose and they didn’t want to waste their vote on him.
But until then, they’ll be bitterly aggrieved at their establishment friends opposed to Trump for showing just how little conviction these guys actually have in anything other than access to power and money.
Much of the criticism, Cooper suggested, may be rooted in self-doubt. “Frankly, a lot of pissed-off people are trying to find excuses for why they’re not Never Trump Republicans. They joined the party because they believed in something bigger than themselves,” he said. “After November, there are going to be more Never Trump Republicans than aged hippies claiming to have been at Woodstock.”
The refusal of most of the aggrieved Republicans to go on the record, said Cooper, speaks volumes. “I love a good blind quote ― that’s why I give plenty of them myself,” he said. “You give it because you don’t want that quote to stick with you. I get it ― but, guys, come on.”