Unless something dramatic happens, President Trump will lose in November, taking a good number of Republican enablers with him. The Pew Research Center reported on Thursday: “Trump’s rating from the U.S. public overall for his response to the coronavirus has declined 11 percentage points since March, from 48% to 37%.” His overall approval is down to 38 percent. A new poll has his Republican ally, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, tied in South Carolina. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Joni Ernst (Iowa) all trail their opponents in recent polls.

Democrats will have a field day if Republicans leave town without a stimulus deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have already bashed Republicans over and over again for failing to come to the aid of Americans facing poverty, eviction and food insecurity while proposing in their bill a tax deductibility for business lunches. Pelosi had this stunning exchange with CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday:

Jim Cramer: I like your spirit of being more upbeat, more optimistic, so I will offer this: Why can’t you go across the aisle and say, ‘Representative Lewis, civil rights legend, would have loved it if we could do something for the totally disenfranchised in this country. No matter what, can we give a huge chunk of money to the people who are disenfranchised, to minorities who want so badly to stay in business and can’t and to people who are trying to go to college or have student loans who are minorities who are the most affected because they had the least chance in our country?’ That’s got to be something both sides can agree to.
Speaker Pelosi: Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described.
Jim Cramer: Ooh, jeez.
Speaker Pelosi: Yeah. That’s the problem. See, the thing is, they don’t believe in governance. They don’t believe in governance, and that requires some acts of government to do that. . . . And basically, economists tell us, spend the money, invest the money for those who need it the most, because they will spend it. It will be a stimulus or at least a stabilization of — and that’s a good thing. Consumer confidence is a good thing for the economy. You know that better than anyone.

Meanwhile in Ohio, President Trump used an official White House visit as a forum to attack presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The former vice president, Trump proclaimed, would “take away your guns, take away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything.” Revealing his own lack of faith and decency, Trump added that Biden would “hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy.”

The jockeying for the post-Trump future of the Republican Party has started, says Post columnist Max Boot. (The Washington Post)

The Biden team responded more in disgust than anger. “Joe Biden’s faith is at the core of who he is; he’s lived it with dignity his entire life, and it’s been a source of strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship," spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Donald Trump is the only president in our history to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out of his church just so he could profane it — and a Bible — for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain.” Bates added that Trump’s remark "comes just one day after Trump’s campaign abused a photo of Joe Biden praying in church to demean him, in one of the starkest expressions of weakness throughout this whole campaign.”

At this point, we not only see the desperation in Trump’s attacks but the scam Republicans have pulled for years in the name of “conservatism.” Claiming to be the party of values, conservatives have lined up behind someone who decries true faith, brutalizes the weak, unabashedly displays his racism and acts on every ugly impulse that pops into his head. Their support is not grounded in values; rather, they come from cultural resentment and white supremacy. As Robert P. Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute and expert on the religious right, tweeted: “Trump’s not first to weaponize God-talk, but his instrumental use of Christianity is so transparent [because] it’s not his native language. Seems he’s using Bible as totem, uttering mantras he barely understands (e.g., 2 Corinthians, “hurt the Bible”) to conjure its power.”

The Second Amendment, also a mainstay of right-wing rhetoric and political mobilization, looks like it was cover for a money-making racket. The Post reports, “The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.” New York Attorney General Letitia James wants to dissolve the NRA and remove “CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.” The cynicism of the right can be seen in the lack of outrage that its money has been allegedly stolen by con men; instead, they worry they’ll lose an effective campaign entity.

Let’s not forget the debt, which Republicans were happy to ring up when it came to tax cuts for the wealthy or bailouts for big business and their own cronies. But they suddenly rediscover their aversion to spending when it comes to funding state and local government to prevent layoffs of police and fire fighters, expanding food stamps or continuing federal support for unemployed Americans. At a joint news conference Thursday, Pelosi let loose on Republicans, chiding Republicans for their selective concern about the debt. She noted they were perfectly willing to use $2 trillion for tax breaks “heaping mountains of debt onto our children,” but not to feed, house and educate them.

Trump and his Republican cohorts seem to be heading for an electoral disaster. Along the way, they are also managing to show us that whether it was on religion or guns or debt, their rhetoric was largely a sham. Stripped of the pretense that they care about anything other than holding power, they must campaign under a president who cannot explain what he wants to do in his second term. God willing, we won’t have to find out.

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