Press: Trump: A party of one

Press: Trump: A party of one
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Former President Abraham Lincoln is celebrated for the soaring prose of his Gettysburg Address and his speech at his second inauguration. But he uttered some of his most famous words before he became president. 

On June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Ill., upon accepting the Republican nomination for U.S. senator, he warned: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”

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Watching the chaos within the Republican Party today — is it any longer his party? — Lincoln might well say: “I believe this party cannot endure, permanently, half Trump and half never Trump.”

There is, in fact, not one Republican Party today. There are two Republican parties. There is presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE, and then there is everybody else.

Trump does, indeed, stand alone. He listens to no one. He answers to no one. He mocks or simply ignores Republican Party leaders. He scorns long-held party doctrine on the minimum wage, same-sex marriage, trade deals, healthcare and maybe even abortion. He rejects the Republican National Committee’s recommendation to reach out to Hispanics and alienates them instead. In no way except his New York voter registration form is Trump a Republican. 

This puts every other Republican, especially every Republican member of Congress, in quite a pickle: To endorse or not to endorse? Even having to ask that question about the party’s de facto nominee is strange enough, but the contortions Republicans have twisted themselves into trying to deal with the controversial billionaire are downright bizarre.

For now, Republicans are divided into three camps over Trump: those who have already endorsed him; those who say they’ll never endorse him; and those who say they “kinda, sorta” endorse, but only with a variety of conditions.

Yes, there’s a handful of Republicans who’ve actually said they’ll vote for Trump, but even they are split into factions. A tiny few, like Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the 'Rainbow Jihad' MORE of Alabama, give their enthusiastic support. Others, like Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLessons of the Kamala Harris campaign Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE of Arizona, admit they don’t like Trump, but say the will of primary voters must be respected. Still others, led by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDuncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden Trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard MORE (R-Wis.), call Trump a textbook racist, but insist he’s still better than Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThree legal scholars say Trump should be impeached; one thinks otherwise Report: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Jayapal pushes back on Gaetz's questioning of impeachment witness donations to Democrats MORE.

In the middle are those who are, well, still in the middle. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Collins opposes Trump's district court pick MORE of Maine hasn’t endorsed yet, but she might. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerRNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE of Tennessee has endorsed but is waiting for Trump to be more presidential. Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE of New Hampshire says she will vote for Trump but has not actually “endorsed him.” Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week MORE has taken perhaps the most creative approach, telling reporters that, while he endorses his party’s nominee, he will not talk about him until after the November election.

And then there are those who have already crossed the Rubicon to Never Trump Land, including Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (S.C.), Jeb Bush and former Presidents George W. and George H. W. Bush. They won’t vote for Trump. They won’t vote for Clinton. Apparently they just won’t vote.

For his part, Trump doesn’t seem worried about hopelessly dividing the Republican Party. In essence, he told Republican critics this week to shut up: “Don’t talk. Please, be quiet.” Because, after all, the Republican Party, “C’est moi.”

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”