Letter: The eight phases of the devolution of conscience of the American conservative

Trump’s condescending, bullying and mendacious performance at the May 10 CNN town hall — together with his assembled fans’ responses — provides the occasion for reviewing the phases in the devolution of the conservative conscience.

Phase 1: Character counts; conscientious dedication to one’s country and oath of office is sacrosanct. (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Phase 2: Character counts and I’m the character who is here to tell you “extremism in defense of virtue is no vice” — as long as I’m the one who gets to define virtue. (Barry Goldwater)

Phase 3: Character counts and “I am not a crook.” (Richard M. Nixon)

Phase 4: Character counts; trust me and my smile, mistrust government and trust the corporations for which I stand. (Ronald Reagan)

Phase 5: Character is not a big deal: “You’re fighting a war. It is a war for power … one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which … are lousy in politics.” (Newt Gingrich)

Phase 6: If Bill Clinton was unfaithful to his wife and lied about it, he certainly cannot be faithful to his oath of office. (Newt Gingrich — in a moment of singularly lucid hypocrisy)

Phase 7: Even if Donald J. Trump is a sexual predator, engages in self-dealing and nepotism, unleashes a tsunami of lies every time he opens his mouth, and is a katastrophically kakistocratic kleptocrat, that’s all right with us — at least it’s all right as long as he remains a winner, appoints ultra-conservative judges who ensure others abide by our sense of religious freedom, and reduces taxes. (MAGA Republicans and the cowardly establishment Republicans who dare not openly and effectively oppose them)

Phase 8: What’s a conscience? What’s an oath of office? (98% of the Republicans currently in Congress)

Andrew G. Bjelland, Salt Lake City

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