The GOP: ‘Fifth Avenue Republicans’
Donald Trump infamously boasted he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue “and not lose voters,” said Timothy Egan in The New York Times. His supporters—call them “Fifth Avenue Republicans”—continue to prove he was right. Following the president’s “collusion-in-real-time sellout of his own country” to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, a CBS News poll showed 55 percent of all Americans disapproved of Trump’s performance—but 68 percent of Republicans actually approved of the president’s submissive fawning. Don’t be surprised: Republicans stuck with Trump through “his boasting of sexual assault” and his payoff of a porn star, his defense of a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, and even his policy of “ripping children from their mothers’ arms” at the border. Who are these Republicans, asked Joe Scarborough in The Washington Post, “and what have they done with my party?”
Perhaps Trump’s base is onto something, said Daniel DePetris in WashingtonExaminer.com. Sure, Trump shouldn’t have acted so chummy with Putin, but what’s of greater concern is that hostility between the U.S. and Russia has reached an “unsafe and unsustainable” level. Russia is “certainly problematic” but not the “monster many in Washington and the media claim,” and it’s in America’s interest to improve relations. Even when Trump makes a mistake, said Ford O’Connell, also in WashingtonExaminer.com, liberals become “so unhinged and blinded by their hatred” that they only succeed in rallying Republicans behind him. After Helsinki, various Democrats were comparing Trump’s comments to “the Sept. 11 attacks, Pearl Harbor, and Kristallnacht.”
Trump supporters are no less extreme in their strenuous efforts to “excuse his bad behavior,” said McKay Coppins in TheAtlantic.com. First, they dismissed the evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia, then retreated to arguing that Trump campaign communications with Russia weren’t illegal. The next phase of their denial was insisting that Hillary Clinton would have lost regardless, “so the whole point is moot.” Now many Trumpists are arguing that the prospect of a Clinton presidency was so dangerous that foreign exposure of Democratic emails was a public service. “If Russia was involved,” said one writer for the right-wing conspiracy website Gateway Pundit, “we should thank them.” For Fifth Avenue Republicans, “the journey from denying Russian meddling to celebrating it” is almost complete.