So much media coverage centers on four Republican Trump critics — one retired, two retiring and one facing a deadly, possibly career- or life-ending cancer: George W. Bush, Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (Ariz.).
Lost in this: President Trump enjoys public support (despite private gripes) from most of the 49 other Senate Republicans and 239 House Republicans, including every person in elected leadership.
- Trump got standing ovations from Senate Republicans, with Corker in the room.
- This flows from his strong, sustained support of GOP voters.
- Corker is right: Republicans in private cringe at the thought of President Trump. But it's meaningless if they publicly bow to him, routinely vote for him and never condemn him.
- This — not the criticism by the few — is the story of the moment and the first nine months: With few accomplishments, countless petty GOP fights and slights, Trump is strong as ever.
- Flake is the proof. While cable lapped up his anti-Trump retirement speech ("I will not be complicit"), the truth is he was forced out because he wrote a book critical of the president and saw his base turn on him. If Flake ran, he was toast. Arizona Republicans prefer Trump to Flake.
- Corker is proof, too. He sucked up to Trump before turning on him. Once Corker turned, he was probably toast, too. Tennessee Republicans prefer Trump to Corker, too.
Sound smart: For all the warnings of how harshly history will judge the Trump enablers, that history will need to be told in an exceptionally long book — because the vast majority of Republicans are forever marked as Trump Republicans.