The Republican Moral Compass
Yesterday, Tim Burns wrote about the recent indictment of Paul Manafort and why he thinks it's good for the country. More interesting, however, was his case for why he, as a conservative, thinks the indictment is good for the Republican Party. Tim states:
"However, the fact that the GOP forced out such a high-powered gun-for-hire, likely based on his questionable integrity, will likely vindicate the GOP party structure as one that is ethical, and has an ethical floor. The GOP likely recognized the unethical and potentially illegal conduct on the part of Manafort, and get rid of him promptly and quietly, likely because that committing crimes is something that is a political liability, in addition to just being merely illegal."
I can only say that I hope his (cautious and qualified) optimism is vindicated. I am not so confident, mostly because of one key difference. Tim speculates (quite possibly accurately) that the party forced Manafort off the campaign because they believed Trump would lose the general election and Manafort’s involvement would fade quietly into the storm of information. Included in this assessment are two related implications.
First is that Republicans were acting under the assumption that Trump would lose and their involvement with the unsavory characters in his orbit would be quietly forgotten. Trump is now the president. The ethical lines we draw when operating under the assumption that our stand will have no bearing on our access to power are very different than those we are willing to draw when their location is the difference between unified control of the most powerful government in the world and years of investigations, impeachment hearings, and embarrassment.
The second, and perhaps more important one, is the assumption Tim makes that the party forced Manafort out. As opposed to Trump. Trump now has the unrestrained power to hire and fire those who are investigating him, in addition to countless other powers to obstruct, obfuscate, and intimidate. The safety of Mueller’s investigation now hinges on the assumption that Trump shares the “ethical floor” that Tim attributes to the Republican Party. He doesn’t. All that's stopping him from stomping through to the basement is that of the Republican Party. Here's to hoping it's made of concrete and not dry rot and elmers glue.
Cross your fingers.