It is glaringly apparent in the wake of Michael Cohen's congressional testimony this week about the many crimes of Donald Trump that the core principle of Republicans is no longer tax cuts for the rich and crumbs for the poor. It is fighting against the truth, which is to say that anyone -- from Special Counsel Robert Mueller to Cohen himself -- who dares question the ruthless actions of the man who has done so much to accelerate the corruption of this once proud party is to be relentlessly attacked.
A lot of people ranging from Jeff Sessions and John Kelly to Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn have learned the hard way that if you fall into Trump's orbit you will be diminished and then burned. Or perhaps end up in deep legal doo-doo. Some Republicans surely understand this, and there are the modest beginnings of a revolt against the president within the party, but most are oblivious to a central fact of their lives: Once the GOP embraced Trump, his corruption became theirs.
Not that the Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee did a particularly great job of questioning Cohen. They were content to draw out Trump's longtime consigliere on his prepared remarks rather than break new ground.
But committee Republicans were pathetic.
They did not dare contest the substance of Cohen's testimony because they would have dug an even deeper hole for their beleaguered leader. So they attacked Cohen, asserting that he was merely a disgruntled employee who didn't get a White House job and is angling for a lucrative book deal.
They impugned Cohen's character because they couldn't impugn the incriminating documents he produced, and they got especially huffy about his characterization of Trump as a racist, a subject of which interrogator-stunt man Mark Meadows and too many other Republicans are especially knowledgeable because they themselves more than qualify for that vile label. Do I need to add that people voted for Trump precisely because he was a racist?.
At one point, Cohen said that in all his years of groveling at Trump's feet he never once heard him "say anything in private that led me to believe that he loved our nation or wanted to make it better."
It was a ginormous opening for Republicans to rush in with examples of why that was blasphemous, but they offered nothing. They similarly were struck mute when Cohen said he feared "that if [Trump] loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power."
Meanwhile, the rationales that tumbled from the mouths and pens of pundits of the Republican persuasion in the wake of Cohen's day on Capitol Hill were pathetic, although none quite so bizarre as that offered by CNN senior analyst and onetime presidential wannabe Rick Santorum.
"The president doesn't tell the truth about a lot of things fairly consistently," Santorum noted. "And so the fact that he's not telling the truth about Russia fairly consistently, at least in the eyes of people around here, why is that any different?"
"I mean, it's not like he's doing something out of character with the Russia investigation that he’s not doing in any other areas."
The midterm election Blue Wave victories by Democrats was a repudiation of everything Republicanism has become, including the reality that the GOP forgot how to govern long ago as it turned its sights to destroying Obamacare, if not Obama himself. Had the Democrats not retaken the House, there would have been no Cohen appearance, only more hearings over Hillary Clinton's emails and that fantastic deep-state plot engineered by Mueller and the FBI to undermine the Trump presidency by seeking revenge for his "victory" over Clinton.
If Watergate was a "third-rate burglary," the Russia scandal is a general-alarm fire.
But the GOP -- long the party of national security -- has been deaf, dumb and blind as Trump alienates America's closest allies, threatens to withdraw from NATO, starts unnecessary trade wars, coddles authoritarians like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung Un and repeatedly shows his cluelessness when it comes to statecraft as the self-proclaimed deal maker registers one diplomatic failure after another.
Most recently it was the foreshortened summit with Kim in Vietnam, for which Trump obviously was unprepared and compounded by his shameful about-face on Otto Warmbier, whom North Korea had imprisoned and possibly tortured prior to his release and death shortly after he returned to the U.S.
The one area where Republicans are acting on national security is a big fake: Their embrace of Trump's extralegal national emergency declaration in a last-gasp effort to get his unneeded and unwanted border wall built.
How ironic that by his own admission, Cohen squandered his integrity in the service of a deeply corrupt master and now the Republican Party has squandered its political and institutional integrity by doing the same thing.
Then there's this: Cohen was Trump's longtime fixer. Now it's the Republican Party.