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Could Donald Trump’s revisionist history leave the GOP in the lurch?

Trump has responded to his midterm travails by doubling down on the insults

November 19, 2018

2:51 PM

19 November 2018

2:51 PM

Holy Schitt! Just when you think there isn’t anything for Donald Trump to add to the lexicon of insults, he finds a new way, this time with the jejune epithet aimed at California lawmaker Adam Schiff, who is poised to become chairman of the House Intelligence committee. Trump’s tweet about him may be taken as an index of his inner apprehension about Schiff, not to mention Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who continues silently to stalk Trump, immune, at least so far, to his brickbats.

The main reason for Trump’s turmoil is that he lost the midterm elections even if, as he explained to an alternately bemused and incredulous Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday, ‘I wasn’t on the ballot.’ So he was on the ballot until he wasn’t? For weeks Trump barnstormed the country telling his supporters to vote as though he was on the ballot. Now that it’s sinking in that the results were at best desultory, Trump is doing what he always does when bad news arrives—shirk responsibility. But as the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, ‘Chances are many Fox viewers will now robotically agree that the outcome had zero to do with Trump. But even if Trump’s name was not literally on the ballot, the story Trump has been telling about this country was undeniably central to this election. With the Democratic edge in the House popular vote now swelling to nearly eight points — 53 percent to 45.3 percent — it’s clear that the country decisively rejected this Trumpist story.’

Trump has responded to his travails by doubling down on the insults. He explained to his interlocutor Wallace that Adm. William McRaven, who led to the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t be venerated. He took too long to find bin Laden. Besides, he’s a Hillary Clinton backer. Trump almost made it sound as though he would have gone in himself singlehandedly to take out bin Laden if he had been president. Today, in a tweet, Trump explained, ‘Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!.’ The book that Trump is referring to is a potboiler called The America We Deserve, which mentions bin Laden but does not mention any impending terrorist attack. Trump wants to make himself sound like some kind of far-sighted genius, but his tweet could hardly be more bogus, down to the contention that the US ‘captured’ bin Laden. Once again, Trump is peddling fake history. Coming from a fellow who couldn’t even bring himself to visit Arlington Cemetery on Veterans’ Day, and who chickened out on attending military ceremonies in Paris honoring American troops killed during World War I, Trump’s comments have an even more curious ring to them.

Also peculiar, both in light of the recent election results and in terms of plain morality, is the continued inability of the GOP to utter anything but the mildest demurs about Trump’s outlandish behavior. Sen. Marco Rubio lauded McRaven in a tweet but was too frightened to mention Trump himself: ‘don’t know if Adm. William McRaven shares my political views or not. But I do know that few Americans have sacrificed or risked more than he has to protect America & the freedoms we enjoy. His military career exemplified honor & excellence. I am grateful for his service.’ Gratitude, shmatitude. What does it take for little Marco to stand up to Trump? Until he and other Republicans discover some cojones, they will be in deep Schitt.

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