If you’re into schadenfreude (why do the Germans always come up with the best words for the most reprehensible things I wonder?) consider the present position of the GOP elites in re Littlefingers:
Early last week, if you squinted hard enough it was possible to see the Republican Party beginning to unite behind presidential nominee Donald Trump. It was not overwhelming support, nor was it the full-throated endorsement a partisan might want for the party’s nominee. It was more tepid, trending towards lukewarm. . .
Then came Monday night, and a Trump performance that ranked as likely the worst ever turned in by a major party nominee in a presidential debate. All of a sudden, you could not find anyone besides Rush Limbaugh and congressional back-benchers like Marsha Blackburn to defend the GOP’s standard bearer.
For example, RNC chairman Reince Priebus — who ahead of the debate tried his hardest to put a positive face on the pile of rotted orange peels in a suit that his party nominated by suggesting that 14 season finales of his reality show “The Apprentice” had prepared Trump for the debate — has been missing in action since Monday. His Twitter feed, which he has regularly used to slam Clinton, has been almost entirely silent.
GOP congressional leaders have said as little as possible. Paul Ryan, whose relationship with Trump has been tenuous, tried to have it both ways. He called the nominee’s performance “a unique Donald Trump response to the status quo” — but also suggested he should actually, you know, prepare for the next debate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell said Trump did “just fine,” which is what a Southerner says when he means the exact opposite.
The Republican leitership remains on the horns of an exquisite dilemma. If Trump appeared to have a good shot at winning they would of course be throwing their purported principles overboard faster than Usain Bolt being chased by a grizzly bear. Lesser of Two Evils, he can grow into the office, he doesn’t really mean any of that super-racist stuff, and so forth. Heck, Ted Cruz was already there a few days ago (what a thoroughly disgusting character he is — and don’t be surprised if he’s your 2020 nominee).
Conversely, if Trump looked like a sure loser they’d be “distancing” themselves in whatever way they would calculate was best suited to avoiding a downballot blowout, so that they could claim subsequently that they never really supported him anyway, that his nomination was some sort of one-off freak Orange Swan event, etc. (Paul Ryan has been preparing to pull this stunt for months, and he’s going to get away with it, just watch).
But instead they’re getting middled. Trump is probably going to lose, but it’s still far from a forgone conclusion. This is, from the GOP elites’ perspective, the worst possible situation in terms of their own unctuous groveling v. frantic ass-covering calculus.
It’s a lot of fun to watch if you’re into that sort of thing (Except for the whole “Trump could still win” downside, which is admittedly harshing my schadenfreude mellow).