Republican Fausts Can’t Get Gretchen’s Garter




Brian Beutler of the New Republic enlarges on a point that has not escaped the eagle eye of Aardvark and his readers: Republican leaders made a Faustian bargain with the Devil so that they could seduce the fair Gretchen, and now they can’t find their Viagra.

In The Republicans Are Off to a Pitiful Start, Beutler writes,

By this time in 2009, Obama had expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover more children in families living near poverty, and had signed legislation making it easier for women suffering from pay discrimination to file lawsuits. By February 17, he had signed an $800 billion economic rescue bill, and his congressional caucuses were aligned in principle behind the health care reform architecture that ultimately became Obamacare. He had filled nearly every cabinet vacancy, with people who were qualified to run their respective departments, and none of his executive orders had triggered global crisis or destroyed the country’s credibility. …

Trump has thus far signed one bill: to exempt his secretary of defense from the law prohibiting commissioned officers from running the Pentagon unless they’ve been retired for seven or more years. As you’d expect of any Republican White House, his aides are drawing up plans to deregulate polluters and financial practices—doing the kinds of things that have Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying “there is a high level of satisfaction with the new administration.”

This is another way of saying Republicans on the Hill are getting some things they want.

But they are also getting to cast votes on the worst, most unqualified, and corrupt cabinet in modern history. They are getting to answer for Trump’s broadsides against the judiciary, and to clean up his disastrous ad hoc haranguing of American allies. They are getting to pretend McConnell’s decision to discipline Senator Elizabeth Warren for quoting Coretta Scott King’s criticism of Jeff Sessions—in the middle of black history month—was a stroke of genius. (Corralling nearly every Republican senator to vote for that censure was apparently part of that master plan.) They are getting to make excuses for Trump’s undisguised efforts to enrich himself and his family. And they’re getting to do all this as members of the most important national institution to fully corrupt itself on Trump’s behalf. (Democrats, judges, consumer brands, civil society organizations, and government bureaucrats, have all conducted themselves with enough basic integrity to preserve a glimmer of hope that Trump can’t just shamble Kool-Aid man-style through the entire social fabric.) …

Republicans made a Faustian bargain with the president, and they’re in the process of getting stiffed. It’s just unclear why they thought Trump would treat them any differently than anyone else he’s partnered with.