The next assumption people are making is that if Trump doesn’t back down, his party’s leadership in Washington will stand up to him en masse and get him to relent — if not this month, if not before members of the Electoral College vote in mid-December, then at least after the GOP has made use of rank-and-file indignation to power through and win the two run-off elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate.
But again I ask: When has something like this ever happened? When have Republicans told Trump that enough is enough with his conspiratorial, politically corrosive B.S. and stuck to it? The answer, again, is never. Oh sure, individual Republicans have occasionally talked back to him: John Kasich, a featured speaker at the Democratic convention this past summer; Jeff Flake, now retired; Justin Amash, no longer a Republican and just two months away from retirement; Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, now loathed by much of his party’s base.
But the rest? The failure of GOP leadership to stand up to Trump has been one of the major dramas of the past five and a half years of American politics. One after another, leading members of the president’s party have tentatively drawn lines and attempted to enforce them — and one after another, they have folded and cowered before him. Many have gone on to become outright stooges, eager to ingratiate themselves before the mad emperor.