Until the other day, the most significant thing to know about Paul Nehlen was that he had been banned by Twitter.
This happened when he tweeted out a photo of Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle in which he mocked her mixed race. He replaced her face with a re-creation of Cheddar Man, an ancient hominid with charcoal skin, as described paleontologists. Twitter suspended Nehlen’s privileges.
Well, who knew this bit of fame was just the beginning?
When House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he was not running for office, Nehlen, an avowed white supremacist, became the GOP front-runner for Ryan’s seat in Congress.
And the Democratic Party says, “Thank you.”
At this point the Democrats’ pen hand is cramping from thanking the Republicans for how they have set up a blue wave in November.
When Ryan announced he wasn’t seeking re-election, he became the 45th House Republican doing so. Two hours after that announcement, Florida Congressman Dennis Ross became the 46th. More are surely to come. Then there are all the Republicans who will leave at voters’ hands.
This is an uneasy prospect for a president who knows that what’s at stake is control of the chamber where the impeachment process begins.
To the GOP’s discomfort we can attribute one thing only. It has become the party of the most dishonest, corrupt and unpopular president in history. And the most racist since . . . owning others was a mark of nobility.
To this we can attribute one thing only. The GOP has become the party of the most dishonest, corrupt and unpopular president in history. And the most racist since – since slavery was a sign of nobility.
The scary truth for the party is that the more Republicans who depart, the more the GOP is going to assume Trump’s likeness.
Consider that the front-runner to replace Ryan as speaker, House Whip Kevin McCarthy, is a true Trump favorite, wholly inclined to embrace the hard-right culture-war issues that have made Trump, in presidential approval polls, Mr. 40 Percent.
And the Democrats say, “Thank you.”
True, Trump speaks to the soul of his party base in 2018. The problem for the GOP is that poll after poll shows a solid majority of Americans finds what he has to say repugnant.
Nonetheless, people like Nehlen who “speak Trump” are stepping forth to grab nominations left abandoned by so many GOP incumbents. It’s going to help them in the primaries. And, in many cases, these Trump clones will help the GOP get creamed in the general election.
Speaking of Kevin McCarthy: There’s a good reason why he and Trump should be compatible. Both have a history of philandering. In 2015 McCarthy withdrew his name from contention for House speaker amid allegations of an affair with another member of Congress.
Why would he be speaker material now? Maybe it’s because in 2016 Trump showed that it might not matter that one’s morals are subterranean.
Well, maybe not now. The march of the Trump Clones should frighten the GOP just as it encourages the Democrats. It certainly did when Trump gave his blessing to the morally shriveled Roy Moore of Alabama.
The retirements of Republican centrists like Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona and Sen. Bob Corker in Tennessee now lift Democrats’ hopes against fringe-worthy Trump-speak Republicans.
Back to our racist friend Paul Nehlen: Regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., at which a counter protester was run down by a racist assailant, Nehlen tweeted that it was an “incredible moment for white people who’ve had it up to here and aren’t going to take it anymore.”
Nehlen is exactly the type of candidate a major political party should not want or need, but he’s also the type of candidate Trump would endorse. Indeed, Trump tweeted encouragement to Nehlen last year when the latter announced he would oppose the sitting Republican speaker of the House.
So smart of that man.
The Democrats say, “Thank you.”
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.