In effect, congressional Republicans have sought to compartmentalize Mr. Trump’s presidency, adopting a cafeteria-style approach. They reach for the more appealing offerings, such as the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, and avert their gaze from less appetizing or, to some, downright indefensible elements (America is not so different from Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia), which would have surely drawn relentless rebukes if uttered by President Barack Obama.
Some lawmakers take comfort knowing that the president’s behavior last year didn’t hurt their campaigns, and they have used the electoral result as a justification unto itself, suggesting — as Mr. Trump has constantly — that his campaign success validates his approach.
“He’s a unique personality, to be sure,” acknowledged Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Republican whip. “But he’s gotten this far the way he is, and I think that probably leads him to think, well, it’s working for him so far, so why change?”
And Republican lawmakers do not mind?
“As long as we’re able to get things done,” Mr. Cornyn said.
They were always gonna be fine with basically being in hock to the Russian mob.
They were always gonna be fine with unsecured e-mail, unhinged Twitter, incoherent interviews, babbling speeches, and lie after lie after lie after lie.
They were always gonna be fine with a cabinet run by Goldman Sachs and the oil industry.
They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them cut taxes.
They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them repeal Obamacare.
They were gonna be fine with whatever they had to be fine with, because Donald Trump will let them push their 20-week abortion bans and personhood laws, their birth control restrictions and defunding of mammograms for poor women.
Oh, sure, one or two of them might say something mean to a reporter or on Twitter, but none of them were actually going to hold a hearing, or vote against a cabinet nominee, or encourage others in their party to break ranks.
Why would they? He lets them get things done.
This was all obvious to anyone with half a brain who was doing anything like actually looking at what was happening during the Republican primaries, but we still had six months of stories about how surely, any minute now, the grown-ups in the GOP were going to take control back from this tangerine-tinted madman and restore order in the land.
Surely his cabinet would save us! Surely he would surround himself with smart people who would run things while he just, like, golfed or something. Surely he would jettison all the white supremacist rhetoric and govern as a moderate! The office will change and mature him! The party will keep him in line!
Those of us functionally awake during the Obama era, during the Sarah Palin’s Facebook Rules Our World era, during the Don’t You Want to Fuck George W. Bush era, during the Senator Saxby Chambliss era, during the Purple Heart Band-Aid era, said no way no how is any of this going to happen, because we are not idiots, and we know what the Republicans of the last 20 years are about.
They’re about cutting taxes, repealing Obamacare, gutting business regulations, slapping their foreign policy on the table, and punishing women for having sex. And they are willing to put up with anything they have to put up with in order to get that stuff done.
So spending time with them now asking REALLY? REALLY THIS IS OKAY WITH YOU? isn’t going to shame them into acting right, into filing articles of impeachment or invoking the 25th amendment or even written a sternly worded letter or two. I keep seeing these bewildered stories, like, “Isn’t there anything that would convince you your party’s president has gone off the rails?”
No. There’s nothing that would convince them of that. There’s nothing they are willing to do about it and there never was.
There’s something we can do, however.
We can remember that they’re like this. We can, for once in our ahistorical, nonsensical political lives, internalize and forever recall that the GOP has no loyalty to anything but the concept of itself, and the next time we’re offered a choice between one of them and another candidate, we can vote for their opponents.