It was in late June when Rep. David Valadao did something that so many other Republicans have refused to do. He withdrew his initial support of then-presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“I’ve just been sitting back and watching,” the Central Valley congressman said at a banquet in Fresno. “I think it’s just been the campaign in general.” He just couldn’t endorse a candidate who “denigrates people based on their ethnicity, religion or disabilities.”
To this day, Valadao is one of the few Republicans who has walked back his endorsement of Trump, even though the reasons to do so are multiplying by the day, if not hourly.
Others – such as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Reps. Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa and congressional candidate Scott Jones – have dodged questions or just weaseled, issuing statements that condemn Trump’s words but uphold their support.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
What will it take for rank-and-file Republicans to back away? When will enough be enough?
We’re waiting. Because for the past two weeks, the real estate magnate has been on a particularly despicable tear, saying and doing things once unthinkable for a presidential candidate.
There’s the Gold Star family he has attacked, cruelly belittling the Muslim parents of an American soldier, Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed while protecting his soldiers in Iraq.
There’s Russia, an adversary that has garnered not only Trump’s praise, but his ignorance. His responses to questions about Russia’s presence in Ukraine and the threat to neighboring Crimea were at best muddled, at worst dangerous.
And on Tuesday, Trump childishly retaliated against the scorn he’s received for those actions. He singled out House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain, both of whom have issued stinging rebukes, saying he won’t support them in their upcoming primary elections.
This from the man who wants to be the commander in chief of the U.S. military and leader of the free world. He wants to be the face of the United States – and, on Tuesday, he derisively kicked a mother and her baby out of one of his rallies. “I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking,” he told the crowd.
These aren’t minor gaffes. They’re character-defining moments that offer a glimpse of a man with poor judgment, questionable moral fiber and zero control of his mouth.
Even Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, has had a tough time defending him. Pence’s son is a Marine.
President Barack Obama was right to call out the Republican Party’s hypocrisy on Tuesday. Echoing comments from outgoing Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican from New York, he declared Trump “unfit” and “woefully unprepared to be president.”
“There has to be a point at which you say, this is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party,” Obama said. “The fact that that has not yet happened makes some of these denunciations ring hollow.”
In a response reminiscent of “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you,” Trump declared Obama “is the one who is unfit to be president.”
Republicans can’t un-nominate Trump, but faced with these cruel antics, they can certainly do more than straddle a fence. This guy’s a bully, and being afraid to stand up to him is no badge of honor. Enough is enough.