Egg or chicken?

Greg Sargent at the Post notes that in primaries, Republicans who are critical of Trump lose to Republicans who passionately defend whatever he does, in particular his bragging about grabbing women by the pussy.

The big news in Tuesday night’s elections is the defeat of GOP establishment pick Tim Pawlenty in the Minnesota GOP gubernatorial primary, at the hands of a full-blown Trump loyalist. This makes a Democratic victory in the state more likely, and crucially, it probably makes it easier for Democrats to hold a couple of House seats they are defending in the state, which is key to Democrats’ hopes of taking back the lower chamber this fall.

Beyond this, Pawlenty’s loss provides a useful way to try to understand what is happening in the GOP of the Trump era. After it happened, Pawlenty told reporters:

“The Republican Party has shifted. It is the era of Trump and I’m just not a Trump-like politician.”

The phrase “Trump-like politician,” it turns out, is basically a euphemism for a “politician who is willing to defend President Trump at his most reprehensible moments.” The man who decisively defeated Pawlenty, local commissioner Jeff Johnson, actually ran an ad that blasted Pawlenty for failing to stand by Trump after the news broke of the “Access Hollywood” video, which featured Trump boasting in extremely lewd fashion about his ability to carry out sexual assaults with impunity.

He goes on to say it’s a pattern, and gives other examples, all centering on the pussy grabber tape.

In most of these cases, the offending act was not merely a personal betrayal of Trump. More precisely, the offending act was to display weakness — in the face of widespread moral condemnation of Trump’s reprehensible misogynistic boasting over his dalliances into sexual abuse and assault — when the stakes were high enough to demand fortitude in response to that condemnation.

In both ads cited above, the disloyal Republican was condemned for going weak-kneed when the Supreme Court (and with it, long-term conservative priorities) were “on the line.” As the ad from Johnson (who won in Minnesota) noted, it was a mark of him being a true “conservative” that he did not “panic when it matters most.”

What I wonder though is which part really weighs the most heavily. Is it really about the Supreme Court, with the pussy grabbing being just a painful hurdle to jump? Or is it the other way around? Is it really the sacred right of men to talk about women with hostile contempt, with the Supreme Court as just a nice bonus?

Or to put it less strongly, sure, it’s about the Court, but it’s silly to pretend the pussy grabbing is a big problem for them, something they have to struggle to tolerate in order to get forced-pregnancy judges onto the Court. They don’t mind the pussy grabbing because they share Trump’s hostile contempt for women. That’s part of why they want the forced-pregnancy judges on the Court, after all.

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