Is the Republican Party actually coming to terms with President Donald Trump and the challenge he poses to the GOP flame – the party of Abraham Lincoln?
Since 2016 the GOP blazed its support across crises and challenges. Now, with the elections only three months away, it is in what looks like a modest revolt.
First, the White House had to pull the nomination of an ex-army general, Fox News contributor and Trump supporter Retired Army Brigadier General Anthony Tata to become the Department of Defense’s next undersecretary for policy.
Tata was scheduled to testify in front of the committee yesterday but the hearing was pulled at the last minute after several Republican senators jibed at supporting him following claims he had made numerous Islamophobic and offensive comments and promoted conspiracy theories.
In the course of the day, Trump tweeted that he might delay the November 3 elections because of the risk of fraud in mail voting. This brought the house down.
Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell, hitherto the president’s point man, was among many GOP senators who quickly dumped on Trump and rejected his idea.
“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” he said in a TV interview.
One of the most dramatic critiques came from Steven G. Calabrese, a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society, who wrote in the New York Times the president’s tweet was “fascistic” and “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment.”
The Federalist Society, for example has supported and even helped select Trump’s Supreme Court nominations. That support appeared to wobble on Thursday, with Calebrese and many other Republicans not only alarmed by the president’s apparent disregard for the limits of his power, but emboldened to say so in public.
Most observers agree the election date can be changed only by will of the Congress (both houses). Point of Order readers will know this from our post in May where we set out the various constitutional aspects.
What has surprised observers in Washington DC has been the weight of criticism from within the GOP.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney, hard right and daughter of George Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney, said:
“We are not moving the date of the election. The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, both strong Trump supporters, joined the attack.
And why? Most probably because Trump is pitching his re-election campaign on the US economy and its prospects for early revival. This wasn’t helped by this week’s announcement by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis which reported the US economy contracted at a 32.9% annual rate from April to June, its worst drop on record.
Time to find reasons to delay the election – despite the Constitution and Congress?