The Republicans usually surprise me by coming up with new ways to do appalling things. Part of trying to game out American politics these days involves making a real effort to anticipate things too awful to contemplate, like refusing to hold a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee because it’s an election year. On Thursday, I got a different kind of surprise when the House of Representatives voted unanimously, 420-0, to urge the public release of any report from Robert Mueller’s Office of Special Counsel. Of course, there had to be holdouts. Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Tom Massie of Kentucky voted “present.” That still left folks like Steve King of Iowa, Jim Jordan of Ohio. and Louie Gohmert of Texas who voted for it.
As the Wall Street Journal noted:
Republicans, who said they voted for the measure out of a belief in transparency, are operating against the backdrop of public support for a general release of the Mueller report. A CNN poll released last month found that 80% of Republicans and those who approve of the way the president is handling his job support publicly releasing the report.
It’s unclear to me why the vote came out this way. Yes, even partisan pro-Trump Republican voters overwhelmingly want to see the report, but that is a bit of a mystery in itself. Have they been convinced that it will exonerate their hero? Are they unconcerned with the potential consequences?
And then there’s the deeper question: since when do Republicans yield to public opinion? They don’t care what the public thinks about background checks for gun purchases. They didn’t care what people thought about their stupid health care plan. They managed to vote for the first unpopular tax cut in recorded history. They often buck their own base to appease their most fervent supporters or their biggest donors. The president says that Mueller is engaged in the largest fraud, the biggest witch-hunt, and yet not a single member of the House was willing to say that the report is going to be garbage and shouldn’t see the light of day?
You can definitely go broke waiting for the Republicans to do the right thing because the public thinks they ought to; so why was this time so very different?
I really don’t know the answer, but the GOP is starting to get used to rebuking the president. They passed a joint resolution this week disapproving of his Yemen policy, and the Senate is getting ready to back up the House in disapproving of his ludicrous and illegal national border emergency declaration.
I watched the GOP devolve for too many decades not to be jaded. I’m not holding out hope for better days. But this is a bit of a turn. Trump is beginning to look a lot like a lame duck in only the third year of his first, and hopefully only, term.