When I was a boy, we had a small cocker spaniel. Though she was dumber than a can of paint — she would run headlong into walls on a regular basis — the pup had moves like Barry Sanders coming out of the backfield. At the sound of a door to the outside being opened she’d come charging, claws raking the hardwood floor. A feint to the left, a jink to the right, a hesitation followed by a surge and she was gone down the front steps and into the world like a blur. Stopping her was like trying to catch smoke.
Invariably, she would find herself in the company of Big Red, an enormous orange Labrador mongrel who roamed our neighborhood like a massive free-range chicken with rail spikes for teeth. Big Red stood chest-high to the average Buick and had a head the size of a beer keg, while our spaniel was no bigger than a minute, and yet the two of them always managed to figure out a way to copulate.
It did not go well, due to a phenomenon dog people call “The Mating Tie,” in which the two creatures become locked together at the rear once the act is completed. Big Red would finish his business and lope off toward whatever adventures awaited him with our poor wee spaniel attached to his rump, dragging her through the dirt as she howled piteously, her little paws scrabbling for purchase. Big Red didn’t even notice she was there.
I think of this, and I think of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Think about it. A giant orange wrecking machine dragging a helpless beast in its wake toward an unknown future, utterly indifferent and strutting all the while. The newspapers and TV “news” media are practically overflowing with stories about how Trump’s all-but coronation as the GOP nominee for the presidency could destroy the Republican Party. I have news for them: the party is already destroyed. A hen will run for yards after its head has been lopped off. Those last doomed steps don’t make the thing any less dead.
Consider this: Former President George W. Bush, along with his father, dropped a big “No thanks” on the upcoming GOP convention, and won’t endorse the GOP’s nominee if that nominee is Trump. This is unprecedented in the modern era; the former president of a party always shows up at the convention, always gives a speech and always endorses. It’s axiomatic, and as Bill Clinton demonstrated at President Obama’s 2012 convention, can be tremendously galvanizing. Not George W.: One of the worst mass-murderers, liars and bald-faced thieves in US history won’t come within a country mile of Donald Trump because he doesn’t want to stain his reputation by association. Beat that with a stick.
And then there’s Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, the unhappiest man in American politics. Just as he assumed one of the most prestigious and powerful positions in government, his party’s base voters decided to nominate a volcano as its representative for the presidential race. When asked about an endorsement of Trump, Ryan said he wasn’t ready to go there yet. Trump replied by hinting that he might try to have Ryan removed as Chairman of the Republican National Convention before blasting Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney for their lack of fealty.
Who came riding to Trump’s side after Ryan refused to endorse? None other than Sarah Palin, the cascade failure from Alaska who makes Dan Quayle’s time in politics look like a physics lecture from Einstein by comparison. Palin said Ryan’s failure to fall in line with Trump could lead to him being “Cantored,” a reference to Eric Cantor getting bounced from the House in 2014. When Sarah Palin jumps on your team, it’s time to quit that team, climb a tall tree and gnaw on the bark until she goes away. Nothing good can come from this.
Trump, for his part, has spent the last several days demonstrating that he is terrified of women. He picked a fight with Elizabeth Warren, calling her a “goofus” and a “basket case” in Oregon while insulting her Native American heritage. There was more. “I mean, all of the men, we’re petrified to speak to women anymore,” he said in Spokane. “We may raise our voice. You know what? The women get it better than we do, folks.” He then trained his fire on Hillary Clinton and all the old ’90s-era nonsense, a sad signal of things to come.
Donald Trump is a ridiculous small fraction of a man with an inferiority complex big enough to bend the very light. He is the creation of a political party that has spent decades cobbling him together like Frankenstein’s monster using parts made of misogyny, racism, hatred, ignorance and fear. Now the monster is out of the laboratory and is rampaging across the landscape with a vast bank of microphones and cameras in front of him at all times. Whenever he opens his mouth, the Republican Party is further damaged, and we’ve got more than six months of this to go before the deal goes down.
Mitt Romney, the last Republican presidential nominee, is in active and very public talks with Bill Kristol about finding an “independent” candidate to kneecap Trump’s chances for the White House. The last two living Republican presidents have headed for the hills and want no part of this mess. This is a preposterous turn of events. There is no mistaking the writing on the wall. The GOP is not in danger of being destroyed. It is already gone.
The giant orange Lab and the helpless spaniel. Trump and the Republican Party. It’s a hell of a thing when humping dogs provide an accurate and appropriate metaphor for the reality of a presidential election, but here we are. “Farce,” said screenwriter, author and dramatist John Mortimer, “is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute.” Thanks to Mr. Trump, we’re about at speed.