Procrastinating on May 31, 2016
Manu Saadia's Trekonomics Is Out!

Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna: Michael Gerson is such a good writer that he makes me feel sorry for him. But then I remember that he has knowingly spent his career, so far, insisting that sow's ears are silk purses. And then I remember that his "best of the GOP... intellectually serious reform icons"--Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan--are an empty suit and a con artist, respectively:

Michael Gerson**: The Most Depressing Moment of the 2016 Race: "For those of us with a certain political bent and background, this is the most depressing moment of all...

...The best of the GOP — Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, the intellectually serious reformicons who have called attention to issues of poverty and the need for Republican outreach — are bending their knee to the worst nominee in their party’s history. Ryan drags himself slowly. Rubio eventually went with a quick Band-Aid pull. But the largest political choice each man has made this year will be one of the worst mistakes of their careers.

How do I know this? It doesn’t require fortune-telling. Just days before Rubio offered to speak on Trump’s behalf at the Republican convention, the presumptive nominee declared the 1993 suicide of Vince Foster to be ‘very fishy,’ especially given Foster’s ‘intimate knowledge of what was going on’ with the Clintons. And Trump attacked the Republican governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, for allowing Syrian refugees to be ‘relocated in large numbers’ to her state. ‘If I was governor,’ he said, ‘that wouldn’t be happening.’

This is Trump on his best behavior, trying (once again) to act ‘presidential.’ A previous column I wrote — examining Trump’s penchant for conspiracy thinking on issues from vaccination to the death of Antonin Scalia — appeared on the same day as Trump’s implication of Hillary Clinton in Foster’s death. One challenge of detailing Trump’s lunacy is the need for hourly updates. His allegation in the Foster case involved the exploitation of a personal tragedy, amounting to the mockery of a family’s loss. It revealed a wide streak of cruelty.

The attack on Martinez demonstrated another less-than-desirable leadership quality. Trump’s charge against her had nothing to do with refugee policy. During her time as governor, just 10 Syrian refugees have been relocated to New Mexico. Trump was attempting to punish Martinez because she has been noncommittal about endorsing him. In making judgments about people, Trump’s primary measure is not ideological or even political. He likes people who support him and disdains people who don’t. So Martinez and liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are lumped in the same category of lèse-majesté. It doesn’t matter that Martinez is known as an effective Republican governor. Trump demands the unity of adulation. He is incapable of magnanimity.

And this meanness of spirit is also applied to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Trump’s mention of refugees was a subterfuge, but still a damaging one. To score his political point, Trump chose to heap disdain on a few people — vetted for years before arrival — who seek the protection of the United States after a terrible ordeal. Can you imagine, say, Ronald Reagan attacking women and children fleeing violence and oppression? They would more likely be used as an inspiring speech illustration. For Trump, the bully, a trickle of refugees is another chance to kick the weak.