Republicans love to talk tough. Ask them about ISIS or Al Qaeda, and they say we should follow Ronald Reagan's simple-minded but catchy recommendation regarding the Soviets: "We win. They lose."
But the GOP has an enemy right now -- a big-haired enemy -- and it's clear that the party's strategy with regard to that enemy is weakness and appeasement:
The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.
The call from Chairman Reince Priebus, described by donors and consultants briefed on the conversation and confirmed by the RNC, underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.
But there is little they can do about the mogul and reality-television star, who draws sustenance from controversy and attention.
"But there is little they can do"? Neville Chamberlain couldn't have said it better!
Whatever happened to "no negotiating with terrorists"?
Reluctant to engage publicly and having developed a friendship with Trump in recent years, Priebus decided to call the candidate and quietly ask him to soften his pitch, said GOP donors familiar with Priebus’s thinking. Trump had left a voice-mail message for Priebus over the weekend asking if they could catch up, making the call’s context less confrontational, the donors said.
The call lasted about 45 minutes, the donors said, and Priebus was cordial, updating Trump on the party and the primary calendar while also urging him to “tone it down” -- a phrase used repeatedly by those with knowledge of the exchange.
This is the party that's furious at Obama for negotiating with the Iranians, and (allegedly) for bowing to too many world leaders. This is the party that rails against the president because he won't launch a land war against ISIS. Why won't you guys launch a land war againt this guy who's killing your party?
Oh, I'm sorry -- you're afraid that a direct attack might just rally more supporters to Trump's side. Well, that's exactly why Obama doesn't want to launch a full-scale war against the Islamic State. Getting it now?
There's still plenty you guys could be doing. You have so many billionaires on your side bankrolling independent political groups, and yet you're not using them to tarnish Trump in the eyes of his new voter base. Trump praised Hillary Clinton in 2012:
"Hillary Clinton, I think, is a terrific woman. I mean, I'm a little biased because I've known her for years.... I think she really works hard, and I think she's -- again, she's given an agenda, it's not all of her -- but I think she really works hard, and I think she does a good job, and I like her....
"I don't want to get into this, because I'll get myself into trouble, but I just like her. I like her, and I like her husband..... He's a really good guy, and she's a really good person and woman."
Trump said in 1999, "I am very pro-choice."
Trump's ideal running mate is still Oprah Winfrey:
"I think Oprah would be great. I'd love to have Oprah," Trump told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "I think we'd win easily, actually."
Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether he'd consider asking Winfrey to join his campaign, given that Trump mentioned Winfrey as a possible running mate back in 1999.
Winfrey, of course, was an early Obama backer who supports gun control and a path to citizenship:
Winfrey went on to address gun control, arguing that “the vast majority of people in this country believe in stronger background checks.”
“Because they realize that we can uphold the Second Amendment and also reduce that violence that is robbing us of our children,” she said, referencing the Sandy Hook shooting last year.
Moving on to immigration, the talk show host endorsed “a clear path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who reside in this country.”
“...t’s possible to both enforce our laws and, at the same time, embrace the words on the Statue of Liberty that have welcomed generations of huddled masses to our shores,” she said. “We can do both.”
Where are the attack ads? Where's the sleaze? Where are the 2016 equivalents of the scurrilous (but effective) 2000 push poll insinuating that John McCain fathered a black child?
Republicans just won't take the fight to the enemy. Confronted with Trump, Republicans are quislings.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog