Donald Trump didn't sink the economy. He didn't deregulate Wall Street or pass legislation that led to one of the worst recessions in American history.
Donald Trump didn't invent a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, nor did he fabricate wild stories of hidden caches of nukes and bioweapons, leading to one of the dumbest, most pointless and disastrous wars in U.S. history.
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Donald Trump didn't ignore the subsequent -- and easily predictable -- power vacuum, setting the stage for an insurgency that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
Donald Trump didn't turn a budget surplus into trillions of dollars in debt.
Donald Trump didn't spend three decades lying to middle-class voters by telling them their interests align with the interests of the super wealthy, and that allowing billionaires to dodge taxes is actually good for the country.
Donald Trump didn't make a mockery of the U.S. constitution by allowing law enforcement to use illegal wiretaps or creating an entire agency so the country could spy on its own citizens.
Donald Trump didn't sit in Washington while Americans drowned and an entire city was destroyed in New Orleans.
Donald Trump didn't ignore the warnings of intelligence officers who pleaded repeatedly for someone, anyone, to take al Qaeda seriously before the terrorist group killed 3,000 Americans.
Trump didn't do those things. Republicans did. And if they'd done such a bang-up job while they controlled Washington, a record number of voters would never have cast their votes for a real estate mogul who doesn't have a day's worth of political experience.
That's why it's difficult to believe people like Peter Wehner, the former Bush and Reagan administration lackey who now writes for The New York Times, claiming Trump embodies "every awful charge made against the Republican Party."
That's why no one wants to hear Jeb Bush whining about the Trump candidacy, posting anti-Trump screeds on Facebook like some teenager ranting about a friend who didn't invite her to a party. The same Jeb Bush who couldn't even come up with a retort when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio lit into him during the debates, and instead just stood there red-faced, wearing a tight and embarrassed smile.
Yes, Trump has said some pretty awful things, Jeb. How does that compare to your brother's track record of invading a country that had nothing to do with terrorism and getting thousands of American servicemembers killed in the process? How does that compare to your brother's history of jaw-droppingly idiotic statements, like the famous "Bring it on!" that inspired a wave of IED attacks against American troops in Iraq? How many American soldiers and Marines are missing limbs because your brother wanted to play cowboy?
How do admittedly tactless Trump statements compare to Republicans wasting political capital and goodwill on largely irrelevant social issues? How do they compare to a de facto Republican policy of ignorance on matters of climate and discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans?
We've got establishment Republicans, Bushes, Romneys and others, grumbling about the rise of Trump as if some other candidate wouldn't have taken his place. As if the Republicans didn't practically roll out the red carpet for Trump after eight years of a disastrous George W. Bush presidency and eight years of impotent, childish opposition to President Barack Obama.
Now long-time Republicans like Wehner, The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, and the editorial staff of the National Review are penning sentimental pieces in which they lament the state their party is in, and wonder if the GOP will ever return to the good old days of pushing trickle-down economics, invading dirt-poor Middle Eastern countries, and rallying voters around recalcitrant bakers who don't want to make wedding cakes for "the gays."
Kristol himself has spent the past two days walking around the Republican convention floor in Cleveland like an Alzheimer's patient, muttering under his breath about the coming apocalypse and telling anyone who will listen that there's still time -- in late July -- to derail the Trump nomination by convincing little-known Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse to launch a third-party run.
“It’s the last gasp of civilization," Kristol said outside the convention, reported the Washington Post. "It’s the end of the Roman Empire."
Although it's awfully presumptuous to compare an American political party to an empire that lasted more than 1,000 years, if we're making the comparison, then it's important to point out that the Roman empire collapsed under the weight of awful rulers, unsustainable economic policies, government corruption and a lack of unity.
That famous image of the Roman Emperor Caligula riding a chariot across a three-mile bridge made of commandeered merchant ships -- is it really so different than the image of George W. Bush landing on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in a Navy S-3B Viking, wearing a flight suit and declaring "Mission Accomplished" before insurgents killed thousands of Americans?
So when people like Kristol and Wehner wonder if the GOP will ever return to its "traditional values," aka the good old days of invading destitute countries and enriching themselves and their friends, the answer is probably no. But when they claim Trump has somehow sullied the party or turned it into a disgrace, keep in mind that words -- no matter how ugly they are -- will never compare to all the harm those same Republicans did to their own country.