There is as yet no cascade of elected Republican officials disowning Trump -- that is, stating that they won't vote for him or support his campaign to be president. Still, denunciations of him by conservative and (allegedly) nonpartisan partisan establishmentarians are growing ever less inhibited. Below, some remarkable indictments.
First, knee-jerk neocon Charles Krauthammer, who never met a proposed military action he didn't like, but can recognize a personality who will up-end the U.S.-dominated world order:
Of course we all try to protect our own dignity and command respect. But Trump’s hypersensitivity and unedited, untempered Pavlovian responses are, shall we say, unusual in both ferocity and predictability.Next, David Brooks, self-appointed moral arbiter, finding a true north with his often erratic moral compass:
This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value — indeed exists — only insofar as it sustains and inflates him.
He is a slave to his own pride, compelled by a childlike impulse to lash out at anything that threatens his fragile identity. He appears to have no ability to experience reverence, which is the foundation for any capacity to admire or serve anything bigger than self, to want to learn about anything beyond self, to want to know and deeply honor the people around you.Also weighing in today is Greg Mankiw, former chair of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, prioritizing with admirable simplicity a basic character test over his own lifelong policy preferences:
Republicans are not going to be able to help the 70-year-old man-child grow up over the next few months. Nor are they going to be able to get him to withdraw from the race....
There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.
He will not be getting my vote.
I have Republican friends who think that things couldn't be worse than doubling down on Obama policies under Hillary Clinton. And, like them, I am no fan of the left's agenda of large government and high taxes. But they are wrong: Things could be worse. And I fear they would be under Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump has not laid out a coherent economic worldview, but one recurrent theme is hostility to a free and open system of international trade. From my perspective as an economics policy wonk, that by itself is disqualifying.
And then there are issues of temperament. I am not a psychologist, so I cannot figure out what Mr. Trump's personal demons are. But he does not show the admirable disposition that I saw in previous presidents and presidential candidates I have had the honor to work for.
Finally, the most remarkable allegation comes from 33-year CIA veteran and two-time CIA acting director Michael Morell. While Morell prefaces his op-ed by claiming bipartisanship (he's worked for six presidents), Marcy Wheeler argues pretty convincingly that he's playing for the CIA directorship under Clinton. Be that as it may, it's still pretty remarkable that a former CIA chief feels enabled or compelled to go this far:
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.
Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.
In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.
All four of these establishment figures assert bluntly that Trump is not capable of rational decision-making. All agree with President Obama's direct assertion that Trump is unfit for the presidency, an assertion which no one not firmly in the Trump camp has contradicted.
No doubt Trump's candidacy reflects dangerous and growing dysfunction in our political system, enabled in large part by the rise of right-wing talk radio and TV and the concurrent self-reinforcing accumulation of power by oligarchs. At the same time, the system also shows some strong antibodies. It is impossible by this point for anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see not to know what Trump is. While powerful incentives keep elected officials on the shelf, full-throated warnings are being sounded across the political spectrum. And the chorus is growing louder.