Divorce is horrible, especially when you’re a political party divorcing yourself. It’s all so confusing and dismaying, but it appears that Republican voters have made their choice.
They have decided to run away with the fast-talking scam specialist with the fat wallet and the comb-over created by the Buffoon Bouffant Architectural College of Porcine, Wisconsin. This came as a terrible shock to our whole national neighborhood, but to none more than the heads of the family.
Imagine how it blind-sided Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader. I mean, yes, he’s away from home a lot and perhaps not as attentive to the family’s needs as he might be, but he’s been busy. When he wasn’t deep in the procedural weeds of the Senate chamber, depriving the president of a couple of district court appointments or refusing health care benefits to 9-11 first responders, he was negotiating important Senate business out on the golf links or around a poker table in the Senate Card Room and Karaoke Parlor. Hey, all that bourbon made in his fine state isn’t going to drink itself!
How devastating for him to come home from work one day only to discover that the party’s rank and file have fled, picked up stakes and moved to a waffle house in northwestern Alabama. Or was it western Pennsylvania? Everything happened so fast. It’s enough to force him to ask himself the hard questions others have recently posed, such as “Is he an argument for euthanasia, or just term limits?”
His approach to the divorce is predictable: denial. Anything to keep the family together. He’s doing it for the kids. He suggests to his party members that there really is no divorce; he actually kind of likes the scam artist, and bigotry and xenophobia are just a small part of an overall picture that’s really not so bad. Hey, why can’t they all live together in a slightly unorthodox but cozy relationship? The neighbors look on, scandalized, sad, and sympathetic, none of them willing to tell him the truth: that the rank and file are just not that into him anymore. This new guy is really sexy! And any day now he’s going to buy each of them a fully-armed drone, so they can patrol any border they like, anytime!
Possibly even more bruised by the divorce, though, is that other father figure, Paul Ryan. Ryan had managed until now to appear as the guardian of the sacred flame of conservative principles, the dad who was stern but fair in deciding what family members could and could not do to remain Republican.
So much for that image.
As of last week, Ryan was sounding like McConnell in denying there was a divorce. He swallowed hard and suggested that he, along with the scam artist and the Republican electorate, were just one big happy family, even after the scammer made racist statements that were outrageous even by scam standards. A good, earnest Catholic man—that’s Ryan, right?—signing on with the scammer is the practical equivalent of a Black Mass.
There are many questions still to be resolved in this divorce, and fortunately for late-night comedians there is plenty of time before the party convention to address them. But among these, the question of brand custody is an intriguing one. That is, someone presumably has to emerge from the mashup as a “Republican,” but who will that be? Who will get custody of the name? One would assume that the McConnell/Ryan axis will retain it, but it’s also true that the scammer has stolen so much from so many over the years that perhaps he’ll be able to pull off this heist, too. For the moment, we’re left with the tantalizing question: Who is the GOP?