I keep telling you that the rest of the Republican Party is going to come out of the Trump moment virtually unscathed. Yes, he may lose in a blowout, and he may take enough downballot Republicans with him to flip the Senate, and he may say and do things between now and then that will be even more horrifying than what we've experienced so far. But after that, the political establishment will agree that no Republican other than Trump can possibly share the blame for Trumpism, however much any party member may have enabled him. Adviser, endorsers, hangers-on -- all will be rehabilitated.
Don't believe me? It's starting already. Check out a Politico story titled "Saving Mike Pence." While it focuses just on how Republicans will feel about Pence in the event of a humiliating loss, it provides a taste of what insiders and mainstream journalists will say about every Republican we expect to carry a permanent Trump mark of shame:
... barring a sharp turnaround, Pence’s allies will need to focus on minimizing the damage by association the Indiana governor will face if he aims for a political career after Election Day.
“Mike has done a good job distancing himself from Trump even as his VP choice, and as odd as that is as a campaign dynamic, it’s showing that his principles come first, however much some think he has compromised his principles,” a former Pence adviser wrote in an email, communicating on the condition of anonymity. “When this campaign is all said and done, people on all sides of Trump in the GOP will think [Pence] did the best he could given the circumstances. And I predict most of my anti-Trump friends will at that point at least admit that trying to unite the party against Clinton by joining Trump wasn’t entirely without its merits.”
... “I wasn’t disappointed [that Pence accepted]. I was gravely concerned,” Charles Lake, Pence’s former pastor, said a few days after Pence took the job. “I think the thing that’s going to happen is Mike is going to balance Trump. … Mike’s not going to become a carbon copy of Trump.”
... Rick Tyler, a former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for president ... [said,] “I just think people will understand Pence is on the ticket, he was a good soldier, he did his job.”
... no one will be tied to Trump as much as Pence. At the same time, he is not well-positioned to take on Trump’s mantle as bombastic populist warrior: It simply does not fit with the persona of the humble Hoosier who still refers to himself as a “B-list Republican” and eschews Trump’s penchant for belittling rivals.
... Pence, who has a deep base among evangelical conservatives, may indeed be able to argue that he provided a seat at the table for that group and did what he could to keep Trump on track....
Pence isn't just some high-profile enabler, like Paul Ryan -- he's Trump's running mate. He chose to be, officially, the Republican mostly tightly yoked to Trump's campaign -- and, if it happens, Trump's presidency. But all these people are discussing him as if he has nothing to do with Trump, as if he just took one for the team, as if his decision to affiliate himself with an infantile demagogue-wannabe bigot doesn't say anything about him personally, as if the fact that he's not like Trump absolves him of any responsibility for being a partner to Trump, as if he somehow dilutes the Trump movement by making himself a part of it. Joining the ticket was an act of charity! Surely no one can questionPence's character!
That's what's going to be done for the whole damn lot of Trump-enabling cowards by the insider cabal. They'll all be given a blanket pardon. The "Which side were you on?" question regarding Trump will never be asked. The notion that offering support to Trump was a sign of moral cowardice will be disappeared down the memory hole. That's because we're never, ever allowed to say that the Republican Party has completely lost its moral bearings -- not even now.