America has seen and survived presidents who defended the institution of slavery, who were drunks, who womanised, who were mentally ill, who bought or cheated their way into office, and one who was forced to resign in ignominy. Not one managed to produce a crisis that the constitution could not overcome. America will go on. The Republican Party may not.
Six months into the Trump presidency, the sky has not fallen. Neither has anything been accomplished.
Many moderate Republicans, including this writer, argued that Trump should have time to find his footing in office. Well, he's had his time, and the results are damning. Six months on, Americans are no less fat, broke, poorly educated or addicted to heroin than we were before he assumed office. What has become eminently clear is that he has no interest whatsoever in governing, preferring petty Twitter campaigns to the quiet dignity of his office. Donald Trump is not capable of destroying America - but he is not going to improve it.
His time in office has become an exercise in damage control for the adults in professional politics. The Republican Party is now saddled with an extraordinarily divisive figurehead for whom we must answer. Unfortunately, most of us have been left speechless by the gross incompetence on display. His casual relationships with fact and propriety have produced an endless litany of gaffes and scandals, all perfectly avoidable and all ruinous to the Republican legislative agenda.
Last week brought fresh scandal, wrapped in an old scandal's clothing. News emerged of a meeting last June between senior members of the Trump campaign and Kremlin-connected Russian nationals who landed the meeting by promising incriminating evidence about Hillary Clinton's campaign. If true, that meeting could well have been in violation of campaign finance law. We may well remember this as the moment when Donald Trump jnr posted evidence on his own Twitter account that led to his indictment; we may well forget it, if this episode, weighed down by complexity and the liberal bias of the New York Times, sinks back into the primordial ooze of Trump's Washington. I do not believe that this latest sideshow spells the end of Trump's presidency; nor is it the main reason that people like me can no longer defend the President. It is simply one more twig on top of a bonfire of evidence that the next three years of our lives are going to be a three-ring circus.
The Republicans made a deal with the devil: that we would take this man, who is morally and ideologically anathema to our core beliefs, in order to accomplish our legislative agenda. What we got in return is stalled healthcare reform, stalled tax reform, a chaotic budget process, and Mephistopheles with a Twitter account. Enthusiasm for Trump in economically depressed parts of the country stemmed from his promise to make everything better. How should we expect those people to react when they realise that they bought a four-year supply of snake oil?
The party cannot wait for indictments to be handed down to distance itself from this calamitous presidency. As the party in power, Republicans have a responsibility to govern. Since the GOP controls 32 state legislatures, we have the ability to legislate on everything that the constitution does not specifically delegate to the federal Government. Much can be done on the sub-federal level to alleviate the opioid epidemic, failing schools and access to quality healthcare. This President is not going to be part of those solutions. Someone else must step in as the leader of the party, as a purveyor of ideas. The ship cannot go down for a New Jersey casino operator.