This week we learned once again that there is no rock bottom with today's Republican Party. There will never be a rock bottom, just an infinity staircase leading to the bottomless depths of bad faith, irresponsible policy, and hypocrisy.
The party has been busy dealing with the fallout from its primary voters having nominated a man who allegedly enjoyed picking up and assaulting adolescent girls while he was in his 30s. GOP leaders are frantically trying to cancel the election in deep-red Alabama, a state Trump carried by 27 points but where Roy Moore (R-The Mall) trails his Democratic opponent by double digits according to the GOP's own polling. They are losing state legislative seats in districts where Trump clobbered Hillary Clinton and where Republicans should breeze to easy victories. The president, incapable of showing restraint or decency for more than 5 minutes, is about to watch several more of his closest campaign associates indicted. Meanwhile, it was revealed that President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner forwarded Russian email overtures to other members of the campaign team and then, of course, lied about it.
And in the midst of all this chaos, the party is simultaneously jamming a profoundly reckless and unpopular tax bill through Congress before it loses one or both chambers next year.
This is the scrambling behavior of a party that knows it is doomed. Republicans are deep in an airtight bunker of their own design, looking nervously at their cyanide capsules and wondering when the end will arrive. They can't quite hear the artillery fire yet but they've heard the radio crackle with reports of Team Blue breaking through the lines in Virginia, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Alabama. A year ago they thought they had busted the secret code of American politics, but today their empire of empty sophistry and irreconcilable policy goals is crumbling all around them. Their answer to their historic unpopularity and their 11-point deficit on the generic congressional ballot is to double down on the very policies that have made them so loathed in the first place. It's quite a gambit.
The tax bill that passed the House yesterday with the support of many blue state Republicans intent on Jonestowning themselves is a nightmare quilt of bad ideas, stitched together by people who relish inflicting human suffering on the vulnerable and who are so dead inside that they don't care what happens to them or to their constituents after it is passed.
Half of the GOP's walking dead probably don't even know what's in the bill they just approved, but to summarize: It's real bad. Their plan is to raise taxes on the working and middle classes in exchange for no discernible policy benefit to anyone except cretins who stash billions of dollars overseas and the nihilists who bankroll Republican political campaigns. The legislation incentivizes businesses to move overseas. Its partisanship is so naked that they just raised rates on millions of their own upper-income voters in mostly blue states and quintupled taxes on PhD students. It makes it harder to deduct student debt from your tax liability. Universities are the enemy in the culture war, you see? Therefore they must starve. And after pushing a hardline deficit hysteria that resulted in multiple, crippling crises of national governance, and spending the past 10 years warning that America was one food stamp away from turning into Greece, Republicans have passed a bill which will tack trillions onto the national debt. The Senate plans to add a repeal of ObamaCare's individual mandate, spiking insurance premiums and knocking millions out of the insurance system altogether.
House Republicans are either so arrogant or so resigned to their fate that they couldn't even be bothered to release the extra votes for this atrocity from their most vulnerable incumbents. They care so little about optics that they go on TV and admit that they are only voting for Paul Ryan's Beltway Babadook because their paymasters will cut them off if they don't. "My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again,'" said Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). I guess Collins wants to get return texts from rich people more than he wants to be in Congress after next year, because the bill he just voted for raises the taxes of his own constituents and has the support of maybe 25 percent of the American people.
Meanwhile at the White House, President Trump sent a deeply undignified late-night tweet from his personal seat on the Scumbag Hindenburg, condemning Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who was accused of sexual harassment yesterday, in the most adolescent way possible, referring to the senator as "Al Frankenstein," with no hint of shame despite himself being elected under a cloud of suspicion as more than a dozen women charged him with assault and harassment. "Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps," said the president of the United States of America to his 43 million Twitter followers. Earlier in the day his administration overturned a ban on sociopaths importing dead elephant trophies from overseas and drove the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau out of his job.
All in a day's work. The only certainty is that today's fresh hell will almost certainly be worse, in ways we can scarcely yet imagine.