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.

11 thoughts on “The Banality of Republican Senators

  1. As predicted, now that the impeachment "trial" is over, tRUMP is now UNCHAINED, UNHOOKED and UNHINGED!

    THE KKKRAKKKEN HAS BEEN RELEASED!

    I think that the meeting this morning needs to be called "The Preyer Breakfast."  These are not "Christians" who 'pray' for people, they are people who 'prey' on people:  Women (especially pregnant ones), the poor, immigrants, non-heterosexuals, non-"Christians," and others who are deemed as outsiders.

    tRUMP didn't disappoint any of his MAGA haters – either at the breakfast, or at this afternoon's bizarro, free-form, "stream-of-CONSCIENCELESS," gathering.

    He is scarier now than ever before.

    And he'll be even more insane with power tomorrow.

    I see a bad moon  a-risin'! 

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  2. Mitt invoked his religous foundation to validate his vote to convict. Trump will be ever more detached from any moral basis. It won't affect the faithful but it's going to grate on the nerves of persuadable voters.

  3. Politicians often call themselves people of faith but I have never heard one refer to themselves as a person of morals.  Now we operate under the rule of an eye for anything that shows proper revenge.  Even the concept of equal reprisal is out the window.  Oh and any non adherence to Trumpian reality especially the fictional parts will be viewed as a transgression justifying any level of retribution.  

    Gail Collins predicted this outcome.  She cited Susan Collins thinking error in saying voting to acquit was fine because Trump had learned his lesson.  It seems her fantasy did not last long.  The ink on her column was barely dry when Detestable Donald went on hate rant mode.  Sorry Susan, there is no conscience or moral rudder in the man. It comes with his god complex.

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  4. And they wonder why church attendance is falling among Millennials. It brings home the saying "Trump destroys everything he touches"

    Rather than focusing on the dolts and jackals and their Prayer Breakfast, I am so impressed with Nancy Pelosi, great photo essay, here. There’s a book screaming to be written about her and this ordeal. I hope she can tough it out.

    Whether you like him or not, I see Bloomberg sweeping the Democrats. The current hopeless disarray is tailor made for him. Trump’s insane excess will drive the business types to Bloomberg. He wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times, Fixing Inequality is My Priority. I might like EW or Bernie better, but my top priority is sending Trump to jail, which I share with Mike B.

    The Hannah Arendt quote is interesting but omits a critical aspect. Most kids are naturally curious and have active minds. Something has to happen to them to make them not think.

  5. Well, it's good to see Trump railing against Romney and Pelosi because it shows the outward manifestation of an internal torment. Understanding Trump's infantile character and malevolent spirit it's easy to see how both Romney and Pelosi delivered the most piercing blows to his fragile ego.

     Romney invoked his subjection and obedience to God in his condemnation of Trump's behavior, and Pelosi branded him with an indelible scarlet letter of impeachment. She went so far as describing the "scar" of impeachment's ignominy as being eternal. Trump can put on his best face and downplay the pain of impeachment with levity, but we all know that Trump, being who he is, that it hurts real bad. The beauty of it is that in this life, or the next, he will never be able to shake that truth.

    • Trump says the House should ‘expunge’ his impeachment.

      There you go! It's starting to eat at his fat ass like crotch rot in the jungle. Pelosi joined him to impeachment like a holy matrimony with no divorce or no annulment.. Not even a, till death do us part, will separate him from his impeachment.

      In LDS speak…He's been sealed to his impeachment.

      I don't know why the big bag of shit is making such a fuss about wearing his impeachment mantle. After all, wasn't it part of his boast when he engaged with the First Lady for the first dance at his inaugural ball?  Let the record show, I took the blows.. and did it my way.

  6. Romney is a far right Republican. He also comes from a red state that isn't necessarily in Trump's pocket. He shouldn't be seen as particularly moral for stating the obvious. It's highly possible he just wants to position himself to pick up any pieces of the party that still exist once Trump is out of office.

    It turned out Bolton only volunteered to comply with a Senate subpoena because he knew there wouldn't be one. He won't honor one from the House. The Republican party is still what it's been for the past 40 years, only more so.

  7. I hear that the Utah legislature is considering issuing a resolution of praise and fealty to placate Trump if he decides to punish the entire state for Romney's disobedience. It's pretty bad when the fear of reprisals from Trump can reach to that level. There is even talk of devising a political mechanism within the state government to recall Romney.

  8. I have been rereading my favorite Kurt Vonnegut books lately, most recently Palm Sunday, which contains the following passage from a commencement address:

    "Now is as good a time as any to mention White House prayer breakfasts, I guess. I think we all know now that religion of that sort is about as nourishing to the human spirit as potassium cyanide. We have been experimenting with it. Every guinea pig died. We are up to our necks in dead guinea pigs.

    The lethal ingredient in those breakfasts wasn't prayer. And it wasn't the eggs or the orange juice or the hominy grits. It was a virulent new strain of hypocrisy which did everyone in.

    Talk about typhoid Mary!"

    He said this in 1974!

  9. I’m taking a rather cynical view of Romney’s decision to convict. I believe it’s his intention to run for president again and he believes his vote will win some people from those on the other side that will get him over that 50% margin. Plus he can sell himself as the man who saved the GOP.

    As for the rest of the Senate and Brown's assumption they fear retaliation from right wing media, I'm not putting much stock in that. Let's assume that easily 20 GOP Senators stuck with their oath and voted to convict. Trump is out. He could whine all he wants, but he's no longer President. End of story. The second he steps out into public spaces he's put in cuffs. At the very least he's put in a real trial for all his other criminal stuff. It is likely he's found guilty which would shut the Senate critics up. No, I'm not buying fear of criticism. If anything, I would buy fear for their lives, because an armed trump supporter is far more dangerous than a Tucker Carlson. But the most likely reason is that Pence is seen as weak and unable to win in 2020.

  10. An eye for an eye was a LIMITATION and CAP on then-widespread blood feud escalations common in the territories. It was superseded by Christ's teachings, so Trump got it doubly wrong, and the fake christians ATE-IT-UP!!!

     

    It is truly sad when non-religious folks clearly understand your religion better than you do…

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