The Republican purge to come

The message from Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus wasn’t subtle: Anyone who ran for president this year and agreed to support the primary winner, best get on board the Trump Train. Otherwise, he said on CBS’ Face The Nation, “I don’t think it’s going to be that easy for them” to run again. “It’s not a threat,” he added. “It’s just a question that we have a process in place.”

He has it precisely backwards. If there’s going to be a purge, banish Republican officeholders who supported Donald Trump. The GOP needs to rid itself of those who turned what should have been a banner year for Republicans into a moral disaster and, tightening polls notwithstanding, likely a political one as well.

In assessing the players, we can begin with the septuagenarians, a raft of whom — Jeff Sessions, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and William J. Bennett — cast their lot with Trump. With their glory days behind them, we can only speculate about whether they are seeking a desperate last moment of relevance. What’s not at issue is that they all have soiled their reputations (try squaring the lessons taught in moralist Bennett’s famous Book of Virtues with Trump’s circle of ceaseless lying, philandering, and vulgarity).