Breaking news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: country-club Republican, Ann Wagner, who represents Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district, has had a change of heart and will no longer support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The occasion for her newfound disdain was the exposure of Trump’s decade-old more explicitly sleazy than usual comments about women:
I have committed my short time in Congress to fighting for the most vulnerable in our society. As a strong and vocal advocate for victims of sex trafficking and assault, I must be true to those survivors and myself and condemn the predatory and reprehensible comments of Donald Trump, […] I withdraw my endorsement and call for Governor Pence to take the lead so we can defeat Hillary Clinton.
Laudable, but, one can only ask, why now? Why didn’t the stream of bigotry, racism and misogyny that have emanated from Trump over the past few months lead Wagner to disavow him as the leader of her party long ago? This is a woman who, up to now has been willing to support a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan , giving him her vote with only a few, pro forma quivers of trepidation.
Do you think that maybe that the last sentence in the quote above might have something to do with Wagner’s sudden willingness to make a hard turn on a candidate whose essential unfitness for office has been obvious from day one?
The faint whiff of Republican defeat in November has now become an overwhelming stench and, like rats too timid to leap pell-mell from their sinking boat, many GOPers hope that Pence might just be just the life-preserver the party and their own, individual political fortunes need if they are to emerge unscathed from association with Trump. And this latest piece of Trumpian nastiness, along with Pence’s self-aggrandizing performance at last Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate, offers just the opportunity they have needed.
Pence emerged as the hero of the Republican day when he coolly abandoned Trump during his debate with the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, last Tuesday. With almost breathtaking audacity, he substituted his own policy prescriptions for the incoherent ramblings of Donald Trump and earned widespread huzzahs for the cold-blooded smoothness with which he left his running mate twisting in the wind.
Many commentators have suggested that Pence did what he did in an effort to raise his profile for 2020. He was, in effect, preparing to make future lemonade out of an admittedly over-sized lemon. However, pols like Wagner want their lemonade right now and they think they can get away with flipping the ticket – even at this late date, an action that, as Akhil Reed Amar suggests in Vox, might be plausible if they act fast.
What this suggests to me is that now that the power struggles that animate the opportunistic GOP hacks have been bared for all to see it is, as they say, time to pass the popcorn.