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What it took for Republicans finally to feel betrayed by Trump

Dana Milbank on

Raising the temperature in the North Korea nuclear standoff with a threat of "fire and fury."

Encouraging a blockade of U.S. ally Qatar.

Issuing a ban on entry by members of certain Muslim countries that was struck down in court and had to be rewritten.

Attacking "so-called" federal judges and saying they should be blamed for terrorist attacks.

Launching a false social-media attack on the Muslim mayor of London.

Declaring the media "enemies of the American people."

Claiming he lost the popular vote only because millions of people voted illegally and appointing an election fraud commission in an attempt to prove it.

Saying there were "fine people" marching among neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

Moving to end protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrant "dreamers."

And that list, of course, doesn't include the many things Trump did before assuming office: the "Access Hollywood" video, the "birther" campaign, calling Mexican immigrants rapists, countenancing violence at his rallies and all the rest.

Why do so many Republicans who tolerated so much now howl about civil war over a deal with Democrats? I'm skeptical this will turn out to be a real break (Trump's dealmaking was clearly impromptu), but to the extent it does, it's not about principle but partisan tribalism. Republicans can stomach just about anything as long as Trump remains a member in good standing of the tribe. But if he favors enemy tribesmen over his own, that's taboo.

Heading into the 2018 midterms, Republicans increasingly have an incentive to make people think they're different from the unpopular Trump and that he's independent of the two-party system. But if Republicans disown Trump now, they still own all the previous Trump actions over which they failed to break with him in any meaningful way.

He's their you-know-what.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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