Most halls of fame have very high standards. The Baseball Hall of Fame, for example, requires ten to fifteen years of dominance in the sport, whether a smattering of batting and home run titles, a string of twenty-win seasons, or embodying the elite of the elite at your position for the better part of a generation. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame requires multiple platinum albums or perhaps even inventing a subgenre of modern popular music.
Then there’s the GOP Hall of Fame, established by me a few minutes ago. Not the historic one that would include Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt but the 21st century version where the standards are a bit lower. In fact, to be elected to the modern GOP Hall of Fame, all you really have to do is step forward and say, “Hey, I’m for lower taxes, smaller government, and secure borders, but I want to make it clear that Donald J. Trump is a lunatic and wannabe tyrant.” Yet the classes of ’16, ’17, and ’18 combined are hardly big enough to fill a Senate Ethics Committee. Here they are in short order.
Clearly near the head of the class. Senator Flake’s speech in January detailing Trump’s attacks on the free press and on truth itself, as well as Trump’s conscious political alignment with despots around the world, is the stuff Lincoln would have been proud to scribble on the back of an envelope. Moreover, Flake’s 2017 book, Conscience of a Conservative, is a well articulated hate letter to a commander-in-chief who neither has a conscience nor is a conservative.
Ohio Governor Kasich deserves a place in the hall just for his 2016 sparring with Laura Ingraham on illegal immigrants in which he described this group of political footballs for the decent, hardworking people the overwhelming majority of them are. His entire presidential run served as a reminder that not all Republicans drink Fox News Kool-Aid or call Mexicans rapists. But the apex of Kasich’s personal resistance was probably the summer of 2017. When asked about Donald Trump’s equivocal response to the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, he said simply, “Pathetic.”
Rarely hesitant to spare anyone deserving a good old Irish tongue-lashing, John McCain has fired more than his share of verbal missiles at Trump from the deck of the USS Arizona in his mind. But his 2017 outpatient heroics, showing up at the last minute in the Senate chamber to kill the killing of the Affordable Care Act—for which the GOP had no real alternative other than laissez-faire death and dismemberment—is right up there with his Hanoi Hilton stay on Senator John McCain’s career highlight reel. Now, as the battle for his very life heats up, we wish American hero John McCain another thirty years of health, all of it spent laying into the pond scum that is Donald Trump.
This lifelong Republican and war hero has been swiftboated worse than John Kerry and all without having actually said a word in public about the guilt or innocence of Donald J. Trump. But the closer Mueller seems to get as special counsel to some sort of viable framework for a detailed account of the exploits of Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential election, the more buses Sean Hannity finds to throw him under. Hey, Sean—wait till Mueller drops the bomb and we all get to see your head explode.
George Will is a no-nonsense conservative with deep intellectual roots who normally delivers his thoughts dryly and stoically on air. But lately he appears visibly shaken at the prospect of his previously imperfect republic sliding into the sewer, never to emerge. While everyone knows on some level Trump is the worst president ever, Will had to calm his own tremors once the President endorsed that pedophile known as Judge Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate. Will then penned an articulate account of how and why Trump trumps Andrew Johnson for the title of lowest of the low. Better still, Will the etymologist and speech pathologist began getting on TV to analyze the floating subjects and antecedents in Trump’s butchered language, going so far as to speculate the leader of the free world is incapable of thinking clearly. You think?
There is no flinching in former Bush and McCain strategist Steve Schmidt’s constant tirade against all things Trump. When he recently told a Minnesota town hall audience, “A third of the country may choose to live in Trumpistan. Good for them. Sixty to 65 percent of us prefer to continue living in America. And there’s more of us than them,” he was clearly and rationally betting on the math that will keep him gainfully employed in the imminent post-Trump world. But it has been his unabashed visceral MSNBC rants that have both sealed Schmidt’s fate as a future target of pro-Trump hit squads and provided some of the best moments of pure entertainment in cable television history. When he told Nicole Wallace earlier this year that if you took the top ten human resource executives in the country and instructed them to assemble a gang of crooks, weirdos and wife-beaters, they couldn’t hold a candle to the actual White House, Schmidt was carving out a sub-niche in the GOPHOF for political consultants turned comics.
Back in the mid 1960s, playing on damaged knees. Mickey Mantle had a few mediocre seasons that dropped his lifetime average to just below .300. But his body of work prior to 1965 nonetheless made The Mick a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In much the same way, “Liddle Bob” Corker’s Ivanka-brokered pax with Donald Trump earlier this year and sycophantic second thoughts on leaving the Senate do not in any substantial way diminish the splendid work he did in 2017. Calling the White House an adult daycare center was, all by itself, equivalent to a triple crown. But this pithy, quotable mantra pales in comparison to telling the New York Times, "Trump may be setting the US on the path to World War III." Bob, you can share a bomb shelter with us anytime.
David Jolly is not quite a first ballot GOPHOF-er. He has minced his Trump criticism from time to time, was never exactly a juggernaut Republican congressman, and took up centrist and left-of-center causes like marriage equality and climate change. But the former Florida representative makes a strong case in his recent Washington Post editorial, in which he leaks gallons of cathartic gossip from his disenchanted Republican peers. From supermarket aisles and the backrooms of bars he gathers candid assessments of the Commander in Chief like “idiot,” “evil,” and “stupid” uttered by wimpy anonymous politicians cowering at Trump’s still plus-90 percent approval rating within the GOP. On one hand, Jolly makes us giddy with his treachery. On the other hand, he unwittingly shares the wimpiness of his subjects. If you want to go to the head of the class, David, you’re going to have to do what some victims of Senator Joe McCarthy and his flunky Roy Cohn did back in the day—name names.
Who would have thought there would be such a bright journalistic and political future for the former chief ethics counsel under George W. Bush, an oxymoronic job description that hardly prompts the bat of an eyelash in today’s utterly corrupt Trump America? Painter easily makes the Hall on his non-stop scathing anti-Trump tweets, sacrilegious defection to the Democratic Party, and straightforward proposition that Vlad Putin outright purchased Donald J. Trump prior to the 2016 presidential election. But what truly endears Richard to the left-leaning home audience isn’t any of those mundane qualifiers. It’s that stark resting scowl “painted” on his face.
Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins
Unfortunately, both these Senators from the far geographical reaches of the United States have a FiveThirtyEight pro-Trump voting record of over 80 percent. On the positive side, their anti-Trump votes—against the immigration ban, against repeal of the Affordable Care Act, for sanctions against Russia—pissed the hell out of the President, sending him into raging carb-fueled middle-of-the-night tweet storms that put him at some appreciable risk for seizure or cardiac arrest. Normally, women are the class of the House and Senate and require no special treatment. In this case, however, with a field clogged by the likes of Maxine Waters, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Nancy Pelosi, the potential GOPHOF pool is severely limited, and affirmative action is a necessary evil.
Neo-con and former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum gets the nod both for his ability to articulate the Trump toxicity ad infinitum and his success in turning Republican anti-Trump sentiment into a cottage industry. Between his frequent cable television appearances, senior editorship at The Atlantic, and his book Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic, Frum goes in repeatedly for the ultimate kill—the taboo of comparing Trumpism to Nazism. If it ever actually gets to that point, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Judge Roy Moore will be burning this Jew’s books first.
Pennsylvania Republican lame duck congressman Charlie Dent wants out of the moribund House so badly he would tunnel his way out like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption if he had to. In the meantime—and by meantime we mean days—he is taking care to issue as many pet peeve parting shots as he can. From calling for oversight hearings on the Stormy Daniels payment to calling out Sarah Sanders for being a professional liar, Dent is enjoying the newfound freedom of a disgruntled guest posting a nasty rating on hotels.com. Okay, so Charlie Dent is no Steve Schmidt, John Kasich, or even David Frum. As far as the GOPHOF goes, he’s a lightweight among formidable heavyweights. But Charlie Dent has one HUGE thing going for him—he’s my congressman.
We don’t know your names but we know you are more or less Republicans and more or less concerned with the prospect of going to hell one day. You are gutless backstabbers, but you are our gutless backstabbers, and we thank you for collectively keeping the CNN crawler crawling and the President dangerously sleep deprived. You will never see your moniker engraved on a plaque, but alas, you wanted it that way.