What a difference three years in power makes:
When a tape surfaced in 2016 of Trump boasting about grabbing women’s genitals, top Republican officials briefly pulled their endorsements, disinvited him from events and even sought to remove him from the ticket.
When, as president, Trump equivocated on condemning white supremacists in a deadly Virginia rally, top business leaders disbanded White House advisory boards in protest.
But on Monday, a day after Trump posted tweets promoting the racist trope that four minority congresswomen should “go back” to their countries of ancestry, the president waltzed onto the South Lawn of the White House with the confidence of a man fully supported by his party and by much of the corporate world that had once kept him at arm’s length.
Even as a few Republican lawmakers spoke out against Trump’s language, with some specifically calling it racist, most stayed quiet or sought to soften their admonishment of the president by mixing it with criticism of the women he attacked.
“They’re just terrified of crossing swords with Trump, and they stay mute even when the president unleashes racist tirades,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who has been critical of Trump. “Republican leaders are now culpable for encouraging this kind of rank bigotry. By not speaking out, by staying mum, they are greenlighting hate rhetoric.”
Trump is Trump. The man cannot help being an ignorant, racist oaf any more than the scorpion can resist stinging the frog.
But his enablers? They know better. And years from now, when they’re saying how awful they knew Trump was all along, don’t let them forget it.