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Opinion

Opinion: What more does Donald Trump have to do before GOP leaders denounce him?

GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Campaigns Near Green Bay, Wisconsin
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has given Republican leaders plenty of reasons to denounce him for the sake of the nation. Yet they stand with him.
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

How much easier does Donald Trump have to make it before House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and U.S. Sen. John McCain finally withdraw their endorsements of a Republican nominee who, as The Times editorial board said back in March, is uniquely unqualified to be president?

Trump’s disparagement this week of the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who killed in Iraq proved he’s also incapable of leading the U.S. armed forces — usually a big issue with Republicans, particularly McCain, a veteran and former POW in the Vietnam War. Top elected Republican officials should put country before party, the board said, and withdraw their endorsements of Trump.

President Obama advised the same, pointing out that while he had policy difference with his Republican rivals for the White House, Mitt Romney (2012) and McCain (2008), “I never thought that they couldn’t do the job.” Trump? Unqualified, and the top Republicans should say so.

There has to come a point at which you say, ‘Somebody who makes those kinds of statements doesn’t have the judgment, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world,’” Obama said. 

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It’s hard to find a principled stance in party leaders sticking with Trump.

And now Trump has distanced himself from Ryan and McCain, who are both running for reelection, saying, “I’m not quite there yet,” when asked if he would support Ryan. And he flat out said, “I’ve never been there with John McCain,” complaining that McCain has a poor record on veteran issues.

Yet Ryan and McCain still endorse Trump.

It’s hard to find a principled stance in party leaders sticking with Trump. This is a candidate who risks running the Republican Party into a ditch, and who has an embarrassing — well, he should be embarrassed — lack of knowledge about how the U.S. government, and the world, works. He’s a demagogue and a bully who would make the world a more dangerous place.

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He has recommended, at various times, that Muslims be barred from entering the U.S. and that families of terrorists be killed (which would be a war crime). He mocked a disabled journalist then lied about it, and made disparaging comments about a female Fox television host then lied about it. He pledged to “open up our libel laws” to go after news organizations that write critically about him (he’s already banned several organizations from covering his campaign events), suggesting that he has little regard for the 1st Amendment.

And the list goes on.

The New York Times described the failure of top Republicans to repudiate the vileness that heads their ticket as “spineless.” They are either that, or grotesquely Machiavellian, falling in line behind a man who seems more suited to be a despot than a president, all for the sake of a false front of party unity.

The Republicans are as far from unified as a political party can get. The best-case scenario for the party, and the nation, would be for Trump to get routed in the fall and, as the dust settles, the historic conservative base to move the party back from the edges of its current insanity. The worst-case scenario for the nation is that Trump wins, validating his dark and despicable view of the world, and with a Congress whose leadership thus far refuses to stand up to a bully.

Scott.Martelle@LATimes.com

Follow my posts and re-tweets at @smartelle on Twitter


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