Steve Schmidt: Be advised that I'm leaving the Republican Party

This is real news, Ben Domenech notes. The news is that Steve Schmidt was apparently still a Republican.

How can that be? He’s spent the better part of 10 years bashing the party every day on MSNBC. At no point until now did the urge strike to mail in a change-of-registration card?

Although maybe I’ve answered my question. “Steve Schmidt, Republican critic of Republicans” is a much sexier hook for a lefty news outfit than “Steve Schmidt, independent critic of Republicans.” Oh well:

On second thought, I guess it’s “Steve Schmidt, Democratic critic of Republicans” now. More:

His point about thinking twice before handing power to a party that would take kids away from their parents with no plan to reunite them and maybe with no ability to reunite them is well taken. His suggestion to replace them with a party that condones abortion on demand at any point during pregnancy — “the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent,” Schmidt would have you believe — is not. I hate to break it to you, Steve, but there’s no winner in the child-abuse sweepstakes here. The leadership of both parties is teeming with garbage.

It’s not just abortion. I repeat what I said in the Lewandowski post. The choice on immigration right now is between the party of jailing toddlers and the party of open borders. How can anyone comfortably choose? Even on the child separation issue, where Democrats are in the right, their messaging is twisted. Their position, essentially, is that this is actual Nazism — just not the sort of Nazism that requires them to do anything to stop it, like partnering with Ted Cruz to overrule Trump. They’re crying on TV not just about separation but about the “cages” Trump is using to hold the kids even though Obama used the same cages four years ago for unaccompanied minors and no one said boo. Even when they’re right, they’re frauds. The party of aborting babies and caging illegal 12-year-olds: Our new moral north star.

Tom Nichols, an ardent anti-Trump Republican, is tempted to follow Schmidt out the door. But not tempted enough yet:

I don’t know what he’s expecting to happen in November. The idea, I guess, is that Democrats might win big, leading Republicans to sober up and turn on Trump and eventually leading to a return to the pre-2016 status quo. It’s pure fantasy, especially now that the most bottom-line objection to populism — “it can’t win a national election!” — has been disproved. Besides, the lesson of the tea party is that the conservatism of even most diehard “conservatives” is an inch thin. Even if Trump fell into disfavor, whose policy platform would the next Republican nominee gamble on attracting a bigger constituency — something in the Reagan-Ryan mold that was tried for 35 years and failed or something more Trumpy?

Even if Republicans get wiped out in November, I’m not sure why Nichols thinks anything fundamental about the party’s dynamic will change. Obama lost 60+ House seats in 2010 and remained popular enough to win reelection. Trump enjoys phenomenally high job approval within the party, even more so than O did, and has the advantage of a highly favorable Senate map this fall to limit Republican losses. Either way, the party’s married to him until November 2020. What’s going to change in five months? We need to get away from this idea that Trump is a fluky aberration as party leader. He is who the party is now, or at least what it’s most activist core is. For years many of them chose not to vote because they were unsatisfied with and disaffected by their choices. (Many working-class whites who did vote preferred Obama to McCain and Romney, in fact.) Now they aren’t and some of the rest of us are. It’ll just be a different group of Republicans who aren’t voting from now on.

Here’s Trump encapsulating the choice on immigration, which he does in his standard strong/weak framework. Toddler-jails or unchecked immigration: Apparently it’s one or the other.