Politico

Opinion | Say Donald Trump’s Name

Donald Trump’s continued outrages and provocations are sure to bring swift condemnation by his fellow Republicans — of some unnamed person.

Republicans are increasingly willing to call out Trump as his strength wanes, although there is still, on the part of many in the party, a strange hesitancy to say his name. They will criticize him obliquely or, at most, refer to him as the “former president.”

The man who has spent a lifetime putting his name on everything can still keep it off the lips of people appalled by something he has said or done. It’s a GOP taboo that became so deeply ingrained during his presidency and the immediate aftermath that it will only lift slowly, if ever.

“The entire nation knows who is responsible for that day. Beyond that, I don’t have any immediate observations,” Mitch McConnell said in a statement after the Jan. 6 criminal referrals on Tuesday.

So, who exactly is responsible? Do we know anything about this person? Is there any description? Has he or she been seen since Jan. 6, 2021? In what direction did he or she flee afterward?

The Republican Jewish Coalition spoke out after the infamous dinner with Ye (better known as Kanye West): “We strongly condemn the virulent antisemitism of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes and call on all political leaders to reject their messages of hate and refuse to meet with them.”

Really? “Political leaders” — note the plural — have been penciling Nick Fuentes meetings onto their calendars? This statement would have been more accurate, if even more blatant in its evasion, if it had called on “a certain political leader” not to meet with notorious antisemites.

South Dakota GOP Sen. Mike Rounds responded after Trump suggested suspending the Constitution: “As elected officials, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. We should never dishonor that oath. No one is above the Constitution.”

He added, “Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it.”

This sermonette was certainly welcome and unobjectionable, except for the fact that you’d have no idea who or what occasioned it. The senator could have been making observations to mark Constitution Day.

It’s as if, after Trump’s announcement hawking his trading card NFTs, a Republican entity or officeholder called on “all of us to do better at not trading on our names in tawdry and ridiculous ways, especially by promoting trading cards depicting us as superheroes.”

If Republicans were playing by these rules during Watergate, they would have distanced themselves from “anyone” authorizing a burglary of the opposition party’s political headquarters and strongly urged all “elected leaders” to preserve audio tapes of their conversations in their entirety.

How much does this matter? On the one hand, everyone knows who they’re talking about, especially Donald Trump. On the other, avoiding his name speaks to a continued increment of fear, a reflexive cringe before the political top dog who for years could make the lives of straying Republicans miserable with a tweet or a swipe during a press conference. When this reflex finally gives way, it’ll be a sign that Trump’s grip on the party really has loosened.

It’s not as though steering clear of Trump’s name provides some kind of immunity. Trump has obviously criticized McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, in the harshest, dumbest and most personal manner possible.

It’s certainly true that, at one point, if Republican officeholders had been more forthright about what they really thought about Trump, it would have led to instant and, in many cases, successful primary challenges. A reticence about Trump could be justified as a means of self-preservation and a way to keep the party from becoming even more MAGAfied.

Now, this no longer makes sense. Confidence isn’t everything in life or in politics, but it is self-reinforcing. If anyone has demonstrated this throughout his business and political career, it’s Donald Trump. He can’t be pleased with his current state, but must consider it a welcome sign of weakness on the part of his critics that some of them still, after everything, won’t dare say his name.

Continue

About the author

Lisa

Leave a Comment