Leonard Pitts: GOP is finally, sorta, willing to admit the obvious

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Yes, he’s childish and incompetent. Is that really news by now?

But of course, it wasn’t that assessment of Failed President Trump that made jaws drop over the weekend so much as it was the person making it. Meaning Sen. Bob Corker, who unleashed an extraordinary barrage of contempt on Twitter and in a New York Times interview.

The Tennessee Republican referred to the White House as an “adult day care center,” accused the failed president of treating his office like “a reality show” and fretted that he was steering the nation into “World War III” with his reckless behavior. Significantly, Corker, who is a lame duck, said that every Republican in the Senate realizes this, though they won’t say it openly.

And this was only one of two recent headlines about Trump being blasted by friendly fire. The Corker story broke just days after NBC News reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him “a moron” following a meeting in July. For the record, a spokeswoman belatedly denied Tillerson used that word, but NBC is standing by its report and CNN later verified the quote independently.

Once again, the opinion is less striking than the person offering it. But whatever satisfaction one might derive from hearing Trump hammered by his own troops is insufficient to blunt the anger that rises close behind.

It’s all well and good to hear these men acknowledge Trump’s unfitness, but here’s the thing: he did not suddenly become unfit overnight. He didn’t morph into an overgrown toddler with his finger on the nuclear trigger over the weekend. Moronity did not blindside him when Tillerson had that meeting in July.

To the contrary, his defectiveness was obvious the moment he rode that golden escalator down to the microphone and pronounced Mexican immigrants rapists. It went from obvious to glaring over the course of the most bizarre political campaign in history, a filthy slog through menstruation jokes, penis size bragging, sexual assault boasting, calls for violence, 24/7 lies and breath-taking ignorance about well … pretty much everything.

Yet none of that stopped Tillerson from agreeing to be his secretary of state or Corker, during the campaign, from proffering his support. None of it has since stopped their party from insisting, with straight faces and admirable imitations of sincerity, that Trump knows what he’s doing, has it all under control. None of it has stopped them from rationalizing and excusing his awfulness.

Nine months in, we live in a state of enveloping chaos — nuclear tensions on the rise; social tensions tearing at the thin fabric of national unity; Puerto Rico drowned, in the dark, and ignored; American kids facing mass deportation, and all of it presided over by a Twitter-holic ignoramus who has more beefs than a cattle rancher. This is not a presidency — it is a national emergency.

So one cannot help but be angry at this revelation removing all doubt — not that there was much left — that Republicans do, indeed, know how bad their guy is, how dangerous he is. They know, they’ve always known, but they went along with it, prioritizing their party over our country — an act of craven partisanship that would have been foreign to the brave and principled Republicans who stopped Richard Nixon in 1974.

Until and unless it evolves that sort of moral backbone, that sort of patriotism, the GOP’s tardy willingness to “kinda, sorta” admit the obvious is just so much useless, self-serving noise. Donald Trump is a lousy excuse for a president?

Gee, tell me something I don’t know.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. E-mail him at lpitts@miamiherald.com.