Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Lesson On 'Wing-Walking' For Republicans After The Cohen Testimony

At what point will the GOP walk away from Trump?

The Republican Party is hedging all of its bets on a president whose past is catching up with him. At some point, they'll have to make a decision: will they remain tied to Donald Trump, or will they see the writing on the wall and make moves toward discrediting him?

Following the testimony of Michael Cohen to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday — during which Republican members of the committee frequently attacked Cohen's credibility rather than ask any pertinent questions about the president's behavior — I was
reminded of a small lesson that was taught to me when I was in college many years ago.

"The First Rule Of Wing-Walking," which referenced wing-walkers of the 1920s and 30s who would walk on the wings of small aircraft to entertain hundreds of onlookers below, was that you don't take a step in a new direction unless you are certain it's a safe move to make, one that will leave you in a better position than you had before.

The principle can be applied to politics as well — it doesn't pay to change your positions on a whim, and you're better off thinking about each possible move like a wing-walker would. In other words, many lawmakers won't make a change unless it's going to end up placing them in a better place politically.

For the Republicans, that means staying true to the president, even after all of the controversial statements, questionable foreign policy choices, and domestic mishaps that have occurred in his administration so far — at least for now. Eventually, members of the GOP may change their minds, but only if new footing can be found that encourages them to step away from Trump.

That new footing may come about as revelations from the special counsel investigation, being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, detail possible misdeeds by the president.

The report, however, may not come out for quite some time, even as news media keep getting told over and over again that it's coming out "soon." Its continued delay could put Republicans in a pickle.

The longer they stay true to Trump, the more egg on their face they'll have if they continue to defend him up to the report's release, especially if said report does indeed implicate Trump in criminal activities.

If that scenario plays out, one of two things will happen: Republicans, taking note of the sinking ship that Trump has become, may walk away from him, and join some Democrats who have already become vocal about it in seeking his removal from office. That'd be a very hard move to make, but one that some may see as more beneficial than staying loyal to Trump.

I worry, however, that Republicans may do the opposite, and make a very disturbing choice: defending the president's actions as no big deal or innocuous, even if some of them may be felonious in nature.

If they select that second option, it proves a point on what I've long assumed about the GOP — that Republicans make terrible wing-walkers.

Featured image credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikimedia

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