The holiday season is a special time of year for Americans of all faith traditions. The arrival of Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s brings good cheer and joy to family, friends, and even perfect strangers. Above all, it is for many a time of reflection on the miracles that define the meaning of human existence in this life and the next.
In keeping with the spirit of the season, the Republican Party has been marking the end of the second decade of the 21st century with some miracles of its own. For these magical events and mysterious developments that defy the laws of science and nature, the GOP’s message to Americans is simply this: You’re welcome.
The Hanukkah Miracle of Rudy Giuliani. Married to and divorced from three women in rapid, possibly overlapping succession, the president’s lawyer may not be the world’s greatest Catholic. But in his telling, Rudy “is more of a Jew” than Holocaust survivor and philanthropist George Soros. Refusing to back down on his story, Giuliani is making one day’s worth of his anti-Semitism last eight.
Holy See Do You Say. Speaking of the thrice-married, on Dec. 15, former House Speaker and Fox News regular Newt Gingrich proclaimed, “I had to speak out about the vast differences” between the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 and the impeachment of Donald Trump just days ago. When Newt declared, “I should know,” he was telling the truth. After all, the third Mrs. Gingrich is now called the United States ambassador to the Vatican. But back in the mid-90s, Callista Bisek was known only as Newt’s “frequent breakfast companion.” Despite Gingrich’s humiliation, Fox News keeps resurrecting him.
The Pool Boy Who Walked on Water. In the wake of Christianity Today’s thundering editorial calling for the removal of President Trump, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. rose to the defense of the man who spoke so passionately at his school about the two Corinthians who walked into a bar. Far from turning the other cheek, Falwell proclaimed, “I told the crowd at the Palm Beach GOP Christmas/Hanukkah party tonight that I predict the 2020 election will be Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the Dems!” But if nuclear evisceration seems out of keeping with the teachings of the Prince of Peace, Falwell would have you remember the words of Matthew 5:5: “Blessed is the pool boy, for he shall inherit my worth.”
Gold, Frankincense, and Body Bags. The Baptist with a business plan wasn’t the only one of the faithful to come to Trump’s aid. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, lamented that it was “sad to see a publication founded by Billy Graham echo the arguments of The Squad & the Resistance & deepen its irrelevance among Christians.” And if anyone knows what’s relevant to Christians, it is Jack Abramoff’s unindicted partner in crime. As Reed described his mission in 1991, “I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night.”
Turning Wine into Water. Following his first meeting with Kim Jong Un on June 13, 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” That September, Trump cooed, “He wrote me beautiful letters” and “we fell in love.” Still in love in August 2019, the president praised a new Kim missive as “a beautiful letter,” even if it was followed within hours by more projectiles launched by Pyongyang. That’s why there was such great anticipation at the Pentagon for a “Christmas gift” from North Korea. As it turns out, the present wasn’t the “beautiful vase” Trump was hoping for, but more advances in solid-fuel and submarine-launched ICBMs from the still-very-much-a-nuclear-threat North Korea.
The St. Peter Principle. In business, there is the notion of the “Peter principle,” according to which an employee is promoted to their level of incompetence. In Congress, this is known as Kevin McCarthy. The Republican House minority leader shocked most sentient creatures this week when he inverted the results of the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the FBI and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Falsely accusing the FBI of “breaking into the Trump campaign,” McCarthy proclaimed the unbiased Trump-Russia investigation a “modern-day Watergate.” Of course, McCarthy has made a career in Republican politics by lying in public. In September, he pretended that the transcript of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not include “though” in the infamous request, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” In September 2010, Young Guns co-author McCarthy declared, “No one has a proposal up to cut Social Security” despite his book calling for exactly that.
Ironically, it was only when he told the truth in public that Rep. McCarthy got in trouble with GOP leaders. His Kinsley gaffe of accidentally telling the truth came in September 2015, when McCarthy admitted that the whole point of the special committee created to investigate Benghazi was to lower Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers. That likely cost him his next promotion to speaker of the House, at least until Republicans recapture the lower chamber. But McCarthy’s career is hardly over. If for nothing else, he will go down in history as the Patron Saint of Incompetence.
Celebrating Our “Judeo-Christian Heritage.” Among the most touching and beautiful of holiday stories are those in which people of different faith traditions discover their common humanity. So it is with the Likud Party of Israel and its faithful appendage in Washington, the GOP. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to prove that being indicted is no barrier to a prime minister remaining in office. In America, Donald Trump has already shown that the president can’t be indicted as long as he remains in office. Regardless, it is especially moving to see our two nations cherish shared values such as bribery, abuse of power, and obstruction.
Republicans Are All Eastern Orthodox Now. In the annals of human history, there are not many instances in which a single man changed the hearts and minds of an entire people. But Donald Trump is one such man. Once upon a time, Republicans were ardently anti-Russian. As recently as 2012, they were led by Mitt Romney, a man who baselessly charged the sitting Democratic president with believing that “the best interests of America are to bow to the interests of Russia.” Trump changed all that. With all of the American intelligence agencies, the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Republican Sen. Richard Burr, and the Mueller report all in agreement that Russia intervened in the 2016 election for the express purpose of aiding The Donald at the expense of Hillary Clinton, Trump now has supporters arguing the exact opposite.
While National Security Council Ukraine expert Fiona Hill authoritatively rejected the “fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves” about Ukrainian assistance to the Clinton campaign, Trump nevertheless told Fox & Friends, “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine.” Now, it’ not just Burr and Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy pointing the finger at Ukraine. When Tucker Carlson earlier this month said, “I think we should probably take the side of Russia if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine,” polling showed that some 45% of Republicans agreed with him. Other polling shows a similar impact within the U.S. military, with 46% saying they viewed Russia as ally.
Numbers like that may be disastrous for the national security of the United States, but they are miraculous all the same. Donald Trump may not have healed the sick and fed the multitude with loaves and fishes. But he has done almost as impressive a job in getting almost half the country not to believe the objective truth.
Which is why, despite the growing mountain of incontrovertible evidence confirming his corruption and criminality, the impeached Donald Trump and his faithful followers aren’t going to give up. After all, his staunchest allies in Congress proclaimed, it wasn’t over when Jesus bombed Pearl Harbor.