For conclusive proof of the utter moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party, look no further than the response by some of its leading lights to the most recent round of Trump’s implosions. After being shocked, SHOCKED by the latest evidence that their nominee for the highest office in the land is, not to put too fine a point on it, an exemplar of some of humanity’s worst traits, party leaders are scurrying in all directions in an effort to save their jobs. Depressingly, although not surprisingly, this is leading to a broad range of responses ranging from the brave, lonely few who have consistently abjured the carrot-topped egomaniac to those whose hatred of all things Clinton is so vast one suspects they would rather pull the lever for Beelzebub (to whom, in fact, their leader has compared his opponent).

But these principled, if in the latter case deluded salons occupy a relatively small portion of the poisoned political landscape. Between them lies the majority of right-of-center voters and politicians. Beyond spinal, let alone moral fortitude, what’s excruciatingly lacking among them is any political consistency. Witness, for example, the pretzel twists of the senior senator of Nebraska who flatly condemned Trump’s hot mike comments, calling on him to step aside in favor or Pence, then three days later supporting the Trump-Pence ticket saying “To me, it’s not a tough choice.” Similarly, the Republican candidate running for Colorado’s Senate seat who said “America cannot have a man who speaks this way about women be the face of our country to the Free World” before reversing field and judging Trump’s second debate performance was “what he had to do” and had “reset this campaign.” Or more succinctly, “I was for him before I was against him which was before I was for him again.”

Pence has famously described himself as a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, specifically in that order. Leaving aside his own lamentable efforts to excuse the inexcusable and deny the undeniable concerning his running mate, this seems a pretty reasonable reckoning.

In coming up a bit short in honoring his template however, Pence does not lack for company, perhaps most discouragingly among evangelical leaders. Jerry Falwell, Jr., for one, suggests that the bus tapes were leaked as part of a conspiracy among establishment Republicans, including none less than Paul Ryan. Jerry Jr. further excuses Trump as living a life of loving and helping others, ignoring of course the investors and lenders in any of his six bankrupted companies. (A shout-out here for the 1,000-plus students at Falwell, err, Liberty University who signed a manifesto protesting Falwell’s stance.) Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, offered “shared concerns” as explanation for his continued adhesion to Trump, said concerns presumably not including such mundane issues as probity, tolerance, and any respect for the truth. Phoning in from another galaxy, Sean Hannity provided the curious excusatory observation that King David had 500 concubines.

Nowhere is it written that any particular party is a permanent feature of the political landscape and 2016 may come to be seen as marking the final death throes of the storied GOP. If so, one should wish for a speedy and definitive demise that clears the way for a new entity worthy of the mantle of the party of Lincoln — one of the few politicians to earn favorable mention from its current scourge.

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