NOT LONG AFTER THIS BLOG WAS POSTED, LARRY HOGAN LET IT BE KNOWN THAT HE IS NOT PLANNING TO VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP IN THE GENERAL ELECTION. SINCE HE HAS NEVER PAID ATTENTION TO MY SUGGESTIONS IN THE PAST, I CAN’T CLAIM CREDIT FOR HIS CHANGE OF HEART. STILL, IT’S GOOD TO SEE THE GOVERNOR MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION AND DISTINGUISH HIMSELF FROM MINDLESS SUPPORTERS LIKE PAUL RYAN. AND I’M QUITE SURE THAT BRUCE POOLE WILL BE HAPPY TO SUPPLY HIM WITH A HILLARY CLINTON SIGN FOR HIS YARD.
There’s no question that Governor Larry Hogan is extremely uncomfortable with the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. (Unless you are still deluding yourself that there will be a successful revolt at the convention in Cleveland, it’s pointless to keep referring to him as the “presumptive” nominee.”)
He’s been asked by the press on numerous occasions whether he is supporting Trump and has twisted himself into incredible contortions to avoiding responding. Hogan even pretended the other day that he was unaware of the most recent obnoxious comments made by Trump in response to the mass murder in Orlando.
What’s odd about Hogan’s handling of the Trump problem is that he has consistently demonstrated real political skill, first by winning election in 2014 and then in navigating his first year and a half in office. While there’s no guarantee that his public opinion approval will stay as high as it is now, it’s none the less very impressive. His evasions on Trump make him look amateurish, which he certainly is not.
To be fair to Hogan, the dilemma that he is struggling with has been tripping up a lot of other Republican office holders. The best example may be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Representative has badly tarnished his image and any claim to the high moral ground by his contradictory and shifting positions on Trump. Can you really be greatly troubled by Trump’s racism and know-nothing appeal and still hold fast to your endorsement of him?
Paul Ryan, Larry Hogan and anyone not driven by hyper-partisanship knows that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president, that his temperament is eerily reminiscent of 20th Century fascists in Europe, and that he is blatantly appealing to the worst in Americans. Surely this is a moment in which the best interests of the country and its future should be more important than whether your party’s standard-bearer is elected.
I’m confident that Larry Hogan has no intention of voting for Trump or supporting him in any tangible way. Yet, he continues to do his version of the Ali shuffle, and he’s not doing it very well. Maybe he is feeling pressure from his pal, Chris Christie, not to openly attack Trump. If that’s the case, he might consider the damage that Christie’s image has suffered since he become Trump’s leading cheerleader and errand boy.
Hogan has the opportunity to rise above the slime that Trump is spreading across the political landscape. Both reporters and Democrats will continue to hound him about his failure to speak out against Trump. He could put all of that behind him and raise his stature among thoughtful voters by simply calling out Trump for the destructive force that he is.
The ugliness is only going to get worse between now and November. There’s no new Trump who is going to make Republicans like Hogan feel good about their candidate. The governor should cut his losses and reconcile himself, as Kathleen Parker suggested, to lose this election with dignity.