(New York Magazine) -- In the wake of Donald Trump’s protracted feud with the Khan family, President Obama has openly called on Republican leaders to withdraw their support for Trump, arguing that repeated criticisms of his missteps are meaningless unless they come with real consequences. At this point, would it be more dangerous for the GOP to abandon Trump or to defiantly double down on him?
The most dangerous thing — for America, assuming we care more about the country than either political party — would be for Trump to be elected president. The most patriotic thing would be for Republican leaders to abandon Trump and do anything possible to stop him. But most GOP leaders have other priorities: gaining the White House for their party no matter who the chief executive or what the price, holding their House and Senate majorities, and retaining statehouses. They are not going to mount an effort to repudiate Trump unless they think those partisan political goals — especially holding Congress — are in serious jeopardy. That’s their sole principle. The only dangers they care about are threats to their own hold on power. Only when polls unambiguously tell them that they are on the Titanic and that they are going down with it will they leap into the lifeboats.
For many liberals, as for Obama, Trump’s nasty belittling of the Khans was a “Have you no sense of decency?” turning point to rival that famous moment in the 1954 Army–McCarthy hearings when the counsel Joseph Welch so effectively stood up to the bully Joe McCarthy, hastening his demise.
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