We’ve seen more than a few odd opinions rolling out from the virtual desk of the Washington Post editorial board over the years, but this one really makes you wonder who has their hand on the tiller over there. There’s nothing unusual about seeing attack pieces directed at GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump in the press… it’s an hourly occurrence on any given day. Questions are raised by hand wringing pundits wondering what, if anything, might be done to save America from the business mogul. Some of the criticism is rightly directed at the other contenders – particularly Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – who seem to spend more time attacking each other than going after the big dog in the fight. But now the WaPo’s editors have found a new target for their displeasure. How has RNC Chairman Reince Priebus so completely failed to denounce the candidate who won two out of three of the party’s first primary contests?
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus whether the party would back Donald Trump should he win the GOP nomination. “Yes, we will support the nominee,” the Republican chairman replied. “To me, it’s a no-brainer.” Mr. Stephanopoulos asked if a Trump nomination would split the party. “Winning is the antidote to a lot of things,” Mr. Priebus responded.
Winning can quiet many complaints, it is true. But it cannot and will not be an antidote to the moral poison of Mr. Trump’s campaign. Party leaders who support and celebrate his victory will be accomplices to an attack on the fundamental values of American democracy. Winning will not wash away the stain…
The argument that any Republican would be better than any Democrat is a depressing reflection of irrational partisanship. Mr. Priebus and everyone else “leading” the GOP are Americans before they are Republicans. They should act like it.
In a rational world this would be viewed as journalistic malpractice, if not a sign of some impending psychotic breakdown. Reince Priebus was not elected to select the next GOP nominee… in fact, his job is essentially the opposite of that. He’s a referee, put in place to establish and enforce the rules so that the voters can make a well informed decision. The screams of protest among the party base would be deafening if he was perceived as playing favorites and demanding that registered Republicans vote for or against any particular candidate. I see far less umbrage from the Washington Post over the failure of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to denounce Hillary Clinton or engineer some way to “stop” her. For that matter, they don’t seem terribly concerned that Debby Downer has rather blatantly tried to rig the game in Clinton’s favor.
Going beyond the singular example of the Washington Post’s war with Reince Priebus for a moment, that phrase I just mentioned brings me to another point I was discussing with some friends on Twitter over the weekend. How often do we see the phrases “Stop Trump” and “Can Trump be Stopped” or closely related variations showing up on our screens? And I’m not just talking about opinion pieces or campaign literature here. I mean the copy rolling out from the news rooms and the “coverage” on allegedly newsy anchor desks. Everyone feels free to use those phrases and they carry an undeniable connotation. “Stopping” Trump is painted in the same heroic light as a Harry Potter story where the reader breathlessly awaits the young wizard’s plan to stop Voldemort.
By comparison, how many “newsy” stories do you think you’ll find where the Washington Post or anyone else poses the question of whether or not Hillary Clinton can be “stopped” this year? I’ll save you the trouble of looking. I found precisely one… from Bloomberg. And it has nothing to do with the need to “stop” Clinton from getting the nomination, but rather an examination of the momentum in amassing delegates which both she and Donald Trump have established. Sure… you’ll see pieces asking if Bernie can possibly win or if he has a path or even if Clinton’s support is weaker than the pundits suspect. But there’s nobody talking about needing to stop her to save America from some horrific, dystopian future.
With all of that said, I’d like to answer the question of who should actually be responsible for either “stopping” someone running for president or handing them the winner’s trophy. And in a bit of irony, I’ll call on the WaPo editors who started this conversation, taken from one short passage buried far down in their diatribe where they offer some possible “excuses” for not attacking Donald Trump. (Emphasis added)
There are several pretexts Republican officials might offer to avoid giving Mr. Trump the public thrashing he deserves: condemnations from “establishment” politicians might only make him stronger; the results of the GOP nominating process deserve some respect, and Republicans must abide by the rules; maybe Mr. Trump would beat the Democrats in November.
Whether you work in the newsroom, write editorials, drone on from your cable news anchor desk or stand on a soap box, perhaps you hate The Donald or maybe you love him. But in the end, we’re talking about an election here. And if that many people are supporting a particular candidate and setting them up for a potential victory under the established rules, doesn’t that say something rather important? In the end, it wasn’t Reince Priebus or the rest of the RNC who made Trump a leader in the polls. It wasn’t the network news anchors who handed him sweeping victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina. It was the voters who answered the phones when the pollsters called and showed up at their precincts to cast their votes. If you want to insult someone for making this choice, why not be honest and just say that you despise the American voters taking part in the democratic process?