The Banality of Republican Senators

Be sure to read Sharrod Brown’s op ed in the New York Times, In Private, Republicans Admit They Acquitted Trump Out of Fear.

For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry:

“Will the hosts on Fox attack me?”

“Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?”

“Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?”

All that and more has come down on Mitt Romney over the past several hours. For example

… Trump’s supporters rushed to make an example out of Romney.

Critics viciously dissected Romney’s political career and cast him as a traitor who not only betrayed the president but also the Republican Party and his constituents in Utah….

…Breitbart News, a right-wing media outlet, led its homepage with a column titled, “Mitt Romney stabbed American workers in the back long before he stabbed Trump.”

“Anyone who has followed Mitt’s career could have seen this betrayal coming,” the column said. “This isn’t the first time he’s behaved like a bitter sanctimonious weasel when it comes to Donald Trump.”

The betrayal theme continued on Fox Business Network, where host Lou Dobbs said Romney would be “associated with Judas, Brutus, Benedict Arnold forever.”

Meanwhile, Fox News host Tucker Carlson couldn’t even bring himself to say Romney’s name on-air.

There was even a lot of talk of expelling him from the Republican party. Romney should hire some bodyguards for at least a while. The MAGA heads are likely to come for him.

Some Republican senators are so eager to prove their loyalty to Trump that they announced new investigations into Hunter Biden today. In another time and place, these would have been the same people who eagerly volunteered to throw the switch on the gas chambers. All they care about is earning the approval of the in-group and its leader.

“Evil comes from a failure to think,” Hannah Arendt said. “It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.”

Trump, meanwhile, spent the day being an asshole, starting with his disagreement with Jesus at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Loving your enemies is one of Jesus’ most famous teachings, mentioned in his Sermon on the Mount just after he tells followers to turn the other cheek.

So it wasn’t surprising to hear Arthur Brooks, the keynote speaker at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, draw on that teaching.

Brooks, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, is also author of a book called “Love Your Enemies,” in which he writes about how we “increasingly view people who disagree with us not as merely incorrect or misguided, but as worthless.”

“Some people say we need more civility and tolerance. I say, nonsense,” Brooks said at the prayer breakfast. “Why? Because civility and tolerance are a low standard. Jesus didn’t say, ‘tolerate your enemies.’ He said, ‘love your enemies.’ Answer hatred with love.”

Well, that didn’t last long.

“Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you,” the President said with a look of chagrin.
Beginning his speech at the annual event, Trump criticized “dishonest and corrupt people” who “badly hurt our nation” — an apparent reference to Democrats who pursued his impeachment over what they claimed was an abuse of power in holding up aid in Ukraine in an attempt to get the country to investigate his political rivals.

Then he blasted two of his “enemies” — Republican Senator Mitt Romney and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

I understand Pelosi was sitting just a few feet away. Democrats really should just stay away from the National Prayer Breakfast; it’s run by theocratic wackjobs.

Instead, the President has said he prefers another part of the Bible, where it talks about taking “an eye for an eye.” (Ironically, some Christians see Jesus’ instruction to turn the other cheek as moving past that kind of morality.)

He’s expressed his preference for “an eye for an eye” as his favorite Bible verse before. The phrase “an eye for an eye” originated in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi and appear a couple of times in the Old Testament. Jesus explicitly repudiated that rule

But in Matthew (5:38-42) in the New Testament, Jesus repudiates even that notion. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

I’m glad at least some Christians acknowledge the “eye for an eye” thing is not something Jesus approved of.

Charles Pierce:

… on Thursday, the president* finished his qualifications for an extended run in the Fifth Circle of Hell by using the occasion of the National Prayer Breakfast—in which no president ever should participate, but that’s another argument for another day—to rage, fume, and whine against the awful fate which he so narrowly avoided. It was an astonishing profanation of the event, to say nothing of an exercise in public psychopathy.

He arrived at the event waving a newspaper with the banner headline “ACQUITTED” over his head and, when Dr. Arthur Brooks, the conservative religious leader in charge, made the mistake of referring to the obscure Christian concept of loving your enemies, the president* had a ready response to that heretical notion.

Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.

At which point, the president* brought out the hammer and drove the nails into his own palms with his usual alacrity.