Friday, August 25, 2017

John Danforth criticizes Trump

Democrats are real suckers for touting Republicans who agree with them and stretching at times to do so. I'm going to indulge that impulse a bit here and quote former Missouri Sen. John Danforth on his public warnings about Donald Trump and the need for Republicans to distance themselves from him.

But before I get all bipartisan here, I want to recall that Danforth was the Senator who sponsored Clarence Thomas to be a Supreme Court Justice. Thomas is African-American, of course. He is also a hardline conservative ideologue who generally opposes efforts to prevent discrimination. Thomas voted on the conservative/reactionary side on some of the most significant and damaging Court decisions of recent decades, including Bush v. Gore, Citizens United (allowing billionaires to flood political campaigns with their money), Shelby County (gutting the Voting Rights Act), and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (which rejected a voluntary local school integration plan in terms that seemed to reject the basic principles of Brown v. Board of Education. Responding to a pro-segregation dissent by Thomas in a 2013 case, Charlie Pierce wrote of him, "It's not often that you see anyone take this much utter self-loathing out for a walk without it ending up in gunplay or a dive off a bridge. ... If there's a sadder figure in American politics, I can't think of one offhand." (See my post Back to 1963 with the Roberts Court 06/27/2013).

That's Danforth's most important legacy to the American body politics. Keep that in mind.

Danforth at age 80 sounds good in terms of the physical and intellectual vitality he conveys. And since he's left the Senate, he has occasionally grumped about the Christian Right. This earned him praise from pundits for his statesmanship. Because in the Republican Party, making a statement now and again opposing theocrats and white supremacists who hate democracy counts as "political courage."

His latest turn on the statesmanship stage comes in a Washington Post op-ed, The real reason Trump is not a Republican 08/24/2017:

It isn’t a matter of occasional asides, or indiscreet slips of the tongue uttered at unguarded moments. Trump is always eager to tell people that they don’t belong here, whether it’s Mexicans, Muslims, transgender people or another group. His message is, “You are not one of us,” the opposite of “e pluribus unum.” And when he has the opportunity to unite Americans, to inspire us, to call out the most hateful among us, the KKK and the neo-Nazis, he refuses.

To my fellow Republicans: We cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party. That is what he is doing, as long as we give the impression by our silence that his words are our words and his actions are our actions. We cannot allow that impression to go unchallenged.

As has been true since our beginning, we Republicans are the party of Lincoln, the party of the Union. We believe in our founding principle. We are proud of our illustrious history. We believe that we are an essential part of present-day American politics. Our country needs a responsibly conservative party. But our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and it is now in peril.
And he declares, " There hasn’t been a more divisive person in national politics since George Wallace."

Mark Shields took the occasion to gush over Danforth a bit (Shields and Brooks on Trump’s contrasting speeches, GOP ruptured relations PBS Newshour 08/25/2017), "Jack Danforth comes with credentials as a senator, as the Senate sponsor, personal endorser of the only African-American ever nominated to the Supreme Court by any Republican president, Clarence Thomas, who had worked for him. So, he is — he is someone who has certainly street cred on this issue."

Did I mention that that Clarence Thomas has been a consistent reactionary in his Supreme Court votes?

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