The 17-Per-Cent Dissolution

The title of today’s entry is a play on American author Nicholas Meyer’s 1974 novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution:  Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D.  This sequel to the exploits of Sherlock Holmes originally penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suggests the master detective’s death portrayed in The Final Problem is a cover story for the truth about Holmes’ cocaine addiction.  “Seven-per-cent solution” refers to Holmes preferred ratio of the pure drug to other ingredients.  When Holmes returns to Baker Street three years later, Watson learns he went to Vienna to seek treatment from none other than Sigmund Freud.

Watson refers to Holmes absence as a “hiatus.”  Today’s post is about another type of “hiatus,” the lapse in moral indignation by GOP elected officials and potential 2024 presidential contenders following Donald Trump’s repeated claims of victimhood and threats of violence following his indictment by New York City district attorney Alvin Bragg.  Equally shocking is the handwringing by pundits on the two “liberal” cable news channels.  Joe Scarborough leads the pack.  On Friday, he tweeted:

Whichever cases may come, [Republicans] are always going to defend the failed reality TV host over the rule of law, over the Constitution, over the military, over the intel community…because for some reason they believe we’re a nation of men and not a nation of laws.

No, they defend Trump because of his market share of the GOP electorate.  Of more consequence is the number of voters who joined the “cult” between 2016 and 2020.  Against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s vote total was 62.9 million.  Four years later, that number increased to 74.2 million.  In other words, 17 percent of the total 2020 Trump vote joined his ranks after four years in office, individuals who pulled the red lever due largely, if not exclusively, out of loyalty to the twice-impeached president.  Kevin McCarthy, Lindsay Graham, Ronna McDaniels and now, even Ron DeSantis, understand in an evenly divided America, they cannot afford to lose that 17 percent Trump brings to the party. Every competitive House and Senate race in 2024, much less the presidency, would result in a Democratic landslide.

And who among us doubts Trump is the living, breathy fraternal twin of Charles Schulz’ Lucy Van Pelt.  Except, in this case, his football is the 12 million always-Trump loyalists who will not tolerate any GOP politicians who fails to kneel before the king.  Trump does not even need to threaten to pull the football away from a Republican Party masquerading as Charlie Brown.  They know he has no fealty for their cause. only himself.

The question, therefore, is not why do they defend Trump in his time of legal peril.  The real mystery is why haven’t they learned anything about political survival over the last six years.  Rule #1:  When you screw up, admit it and ask for the electorate’s mercy.  Democrats know that. Bill Clinton’s national health care debacle should have ruined his political career.  Obama admitted a “shellacking” in the 2010 midterms.  Or Obama’s first debate with Mitt Romney after which he conceded, “I was not happy with my performance.”  Neither kept Bill or Barack from four more years in the Oval Office.

The GOP’s problem is they keep drinking the “never apologize” Kool Aid that Trump serves up.  Even when it does not work.  As Scarborough constantly reminds his former Republican colleagues, Trump and the GOP were losers in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022.  What’s more, they do not understand they cannot win back suburban voters as long as they kowtow to whatever portion of that 17 percent who believe Trump gives them permission to display their bigotry and ignorance.

Yesterday, New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu, a potential 2024 Trump challenger, joined the ranks of those who say, “Trump will not be nominee, but if he is, yes, I’ll vote for him.”  Congratulations, Governor.  You just made the most one sided Faustian deal in recorded history.  You traded 14 percent of 2024 Biden conservative voters (most of whom are or were Republicans),  a seven percent decline among independents between 2016 and 2018, and a six percent drop in voters 18-29 years old.  Even a “woke” Florida economics textbook teaches students buy low, sell high.  Sununu is suggesting he can profit by paying 27 percent wholesale for a product for which he will get 17 percent retail.  And this is the guy who claims he will balance the federal budget.

This morning, Mark Leibowitz was interviewed about his latest article in The Atlantic, “Trump’s Republican Rivals Are Missing an Obvious Opportunity.”  He writes:

Now is an ideal moment for Republicans to free themselves from the former president. They’re not exactly taking advantage of it.

He ticked off each of the previous opportunities the GOP had a chance to break with Trump.  Access Hollywood.  Charlottesville.  Two impeachments.  January 6th.  What Leibowitz, like so many other pundits fail to realize, those events are all the other ingredients in the GOP’s opiate which keeps them addicted to Trump. 

It took Freud three years to wean Holmes from a seven percent cocaine solution.  We need to prepare for an even longer time frame for the Republican Party to dissolve its Trump addiction when the concentration of the main ingredient, Trump voters who will abandon the GOP, is 17 percent.  It may eventually happen, but withdrawal could still be a nightmare.

For what it’s worth.