That was Then, This is Now

Published: July 20, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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It’s remarkable how many Republicans have come down from the mountaintop of conservative values and demonstrated a complete turn-around in their opinion of Donald Trump.


One year ago this month, former Texas Governor Rick Perry had this to say of Trump:

“…A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued. Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”

Pretty strong words. What does Perry say now?

“I believe Donald Trump would be a great President of the United States, and I think we all have the opportunity to re-evaluate an individual after you get to know them better and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”

From “cancer” to “great”; that’s amazing.

When Trump begged off commenting on the fact that White Supremacist David Duke was supporting him for president, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices.”

Despite the admonishment, Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel for bias due to his Mexican heritage. Curiel, born in Indiana, is overseeing a lawsuit brought against Trump University.

In a report in the Wall Street Journal, Trump told a crowd of supporters “that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had ‘an absolute conflict’ in presiding over the litigation given that he was ‘of Mexican heritage’ and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. ‘I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,’ Mr. Trump said.

In response, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in an e-mail, “I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care. His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”

Gingrich doubled-down when he added that Trump is an “absurd amateur.”

However, Gingrich softened his tone considerably when he was recently interviewed by FOX News host Sean Hannity.

“Look, in many ways Donald Trump is like a pirate. He’s outside the normal system, he gets things done, he’s bold, he’s actually like a figure out of a movie.”

Well, that’s creative.

Last month, current House Speaker Paul Ryan called Trump’s remarks on Curiel, “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

However, at that same press conference, Ryan continued to say that he supported Trump.

Before he was tapped to be Trump’s VP, Indiana Governor Mike Pence said of Trump’s comments:

“Every American is entitled to a fair trial and an impartial judge, but of course I think those comments were inappropriate. I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to question the partiality of the judge based on their ethnic background.”

That was then. This is now from an interview on 60 Minutes:

“…Donald Trump, this good man, I believe, will be a great president of the United States.”

Pence compared Trump to no less a figure than the 20th century icon of Republicans, The Gipper, himself.

“I have a sense of this man. I have a sense of his heart. I have a sense of his hands-on style of leadership, and for all the world, he reminds me of Ronald Reagan.”

In a Tuesday afternoon speech before the American Conservative Union Foundation, Pence went on to say, “Trust me when I say this, when we come together as a party and a people, when we elect strong majorities in the House and Senate and elect this good man as the 45th president of the United States, I know in my heart of hearts we will make America great again, at home and abroad. He’s a builder. He’s a fighter. He’s a father, and he’s a patriot.”

Wow, Pence has not only had a heapin’ helpin’ of Trump-branded Kool-Aid, he’s handing out buckets to anyone who will listen.

For the record, here’s what President Ronald Reagan said on October 26, 1984 about racism in a speech to the congregation of Temple Hillel in New York:

“We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America — none, whatsoever.”

Mr. Perry, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Pence: You cannot condemn an individual’s words of bigotry, intolerance and racism and support that same individual for President of the United States. Those two notions conflict with one another.


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