Trump is trapped. And he locked the entire GOP in with him.

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device   Hotel California   The Eagles

It’s a classic axiom, “Like a rat caught in a maze.” It’s a scary mental image, running blindly from corridor to corridor, bumping into dead ends, ceaselessly doubling back, desperately looking for an exit that doesn’t exist. Metaphorically, it normally means that someone has told so many lies, in such overlying juxtaposition, that they can no longer find their way back to the original point.

Welcome to the Trump White House. Whether it’s about Russian interference and collusion, his taxes, Stormy Daniels, or his business, it has reached the point where Donald Trump can’t even tell the truth without it coming out sounding like bullshit. In a normal political world, this is about the time that Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and a couple of other GOP Senators would take a stroll on up Pennsylvania avenue, walk into the Oval Office, and tell their president, “Buddy, it’s really been a slice. But it’s time for y’all to go on back to New York and play with your Lego’s again. We can’t take this shit anymore.” But they can’t.

They can’t because the GOP crossed the invisible line between a political party and a cult. Every political party has a “leader.” And when the party is in power, that leader is the President. But when that president leaves, for whatever reason, a new leader takes over the party, that is the nature of the beast. But that metric has ceased to exist for the Republican party, there is only Glorious Bleater. The party no longer allows for dissent, or succession. Charlie Manson had lieutenants, but there was no one, specific Deputy Whack Job who would continue in his absence. And Jim Jones didn’t meed a successor, mainly because he took all of his sheep with him. Whether it’s in 2019, 2020, or 2024, the GOP has no viable path forward, simply because there is nobody for them to follow.

But we don’t have to wait for Trump’s eventual fall from grace to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, that is about to play out before our very eyes, in real time, and very soon. Trump is in a maze, and thanks to their soulless subservience to Trump, there are many more main characters, each in their own maze, which they constructed by themselves. Let’s take a look at just a few of them, and notice how, at some point, they all share common walls with Trump, and with each other.

Donald Trump

Trump can’t lose in 2020. It’s just that simple. He can’t lose in 2020 simply because there are too many things that Mueller is investigating at the federal level that won’t have stale dated yet in terms of the federal statute of limitations. If Trump loses, that means that a Democrat won, and he can kiss a pardon goodbye.Even if he pardons himself, a Democratic president would simply refuse to order the Department of Justice to defend the almost immediate lawsuits, and the pardon(s) would likely be found unconstitutional. And he can’t afford to lose in 2020 because even a pardon won’t protect him from state prosecution in New York. Trump desperately needs to win reelection in 2020, to run out the clock on any state charges that New York might want to bring.

Likewise, Trump can’t afford to resign, pretty much regardless of the situation. This is true for two reasons. First, his resignation immediately exposes him to state charges in New York, including any earlier charges that may have expired by January 20, 2021. Even if Mueller stays tight lipped, I find it hard to believe that the Southern District of New York hasn’t sprinkled a few bread crumbs for New York state authorities on things that they may have uncovered that fall outside of their purview.

The second reason that Trump can’t resign is that he can’t afford to trust Mike Pence to pardon him. I will deal specifically with Pence in another section, but Trump has good reason to doubt Pence’s commitment. For starters, Trump has been as belittling and dismissive of Pence, his wife, and his religion as he has been of everybody else who unfortunately falls under his jaded eye. Also, once Trump is out of the way, Pence is more likely to be swayed by the public sentiment regarding Trump, as it now fits into Pence’s new political reality. And third, Donald Trump is inherently a paranoid creature, and there is no way for Pence to pardon Trump until Pence is President, in which case Trump is powerless if Pence decides to reneg. And Trump won’t take that chance with his personal freedom.

The RNC

The Republican National Committee is effectively neutered, and they performed the surgery on themselves, sans Novacaine. They made the same mistake that everybody else did, they took Trump for a joke. They miscalculated the amount of total disgust by a large portion of the population for “politics as usual,” and when confronted with it, they punted.

The NRC actually had their chance, and they blew it. They folded with their full house when Trump bluffed with his pair of threes. They put out a pledge for every candidate to sign, swearing that they would endorse the eventual winner, and threatening a spot on the debate stage for anybody who refused to sign. Trump rebelled, threatening to bolt the party and run as a third party candidate if the RNC sanctioned his refusal to sign.

Sweet Jeebus, but they should have known better! Trump had neither the knowledge, nor the organization to set up the mammoth undertaking of getting enough signatures in each state to ensure that his name appeared on any ballots. And Trump was too lazy to do it anyway. But Trump is a master con man, and he pulled off his biggest con on the NRC. He built his “base” into this behemoth movement, whose departure would wreck the GOP. Nothing could be farther than the truth, his actual base was about 27% of the 15% or so of the entire GOP that votes in primaries. Trump won early primaries because he captured about 27-30% of the vote while 16 other candidates ran in single digits. If Trump had copped a snit that early in the process, most of his more “establishment” supporters would have simply moved on and picked another candidate toi support. That’s exactly what Ted Cruz was banking on in taking such a non confrontational stance towards Trump.

Instead, the RNC buckled, and oh, how they buckled. Not only did they let him get way with refusing to sign the pledge, but they let him humiliate them with that absurdly staged ceremony, where he signed the pledge with his signature sharpie, smirking all the while. They refused to say a word in regard to his racist rants, and uttered not a peep about his sexist Access Hollywood tape. And now, the chairwoman of the RNC voluntarily gives up her maiden name to get the job, and tells her own uncle to shut up and drink the kool-ade. Once Trump departs, the RNC will be nothing but three letters on the top of fund raising e-mails.

Mike Pence

Mike Pence is without the largest, and most clownish sock puppet in the Trump kiddie theater. Pence has been Trump’s shoulder parrot, gofer, punching bag, and general, all purpose punch line since day one. It started with Trump naming him, then letting it slip that he was thinking of dropping him and naming someone else, and it’s only gone downhill since. It’s a good thing that Pence has the personality of a department store mannequin, because that’s all the use that Trump has for him. With a resume like that, you’d think that Pence would have less to lose than anybody else connected to this shit show.

But you’d be wrong. Because if the walls come tumbling down, Mike Pence would likely find himself in the cross hairs. And I think Pence knows it. Pence just did an interview on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, where he submissively performed various acts of electronic oral sex on El Rushbo. “Oh, Rush. we rea;;y can’t thank you enough for all of your support and leadership.” *slurp* I have no doubt that his appearance on Limbaugh’s show was at least sanctioned by, if not directly ordered by, Trump himself, but I also think that Pence took the opportunity to introduce himself, and pay homage to people he may need on his side very shortly. That appearance would be one way of testing the waters if you were dabbling with the prospect of pulling the trigger on the 25th Amendment.

Let’s just say that Trump leaves. Impeachment, resignation it really doesn’t matter. If Trump leaves, it will put Pence in the epicenter of the earthquake that will be the Republican party. On the one hand, he will have the crabby and irascible Trump base to placate. But on the other hand, he will have the establishment portion of the GOP, what there is left of it, looking to him as the life raft off of this island of the damned.

This is why Pence pardoning Trump is no sure thing. If Trump departs, for whatever reason, Pence immediately becomes the front runner for 2020 on the GOP side. The latest CNN poll showed Trump at 37%. If the shutdown continues, and the suffering worsens, and if people seriously start to think that their president just may be a traitor, those numbers could easily sink into the low to mid 30’s.

And if that happens, and Pence is in the Oval Office, he has a problem on his hands. The Trump base is still going to want a full pardon for their new martyr, and will expect Pence to provide it. This is where Limbaugh, Ingraham et al could prove valuable. If Pence can convert them, and they wash their hands of Trump, he could minimize his losses. But Trump’s base isn’t enough, and it never was. He lost the popular vote by 3 million fer Crissakes! There are still plenty of moderate Republicans who would like to have a party to come back to, and they may well view letting The Orange Julius take his lumps as a rite of cleansing for the party. If Pence pardons Trump, he risks alienating those voters even more, quite possibly forever. This is what happens when you put all of your eggs into one basket, and then drive into a tornado.

Here’s the last thing to consider, and why I think that the Republican party is totally screwed. I have no doubt that Trump is going to get a primary challenger for 2020. There are still people out there on the conservative side that believe there can be a Republican party after Trump,and they want to be in a dominant position to lead it. Whether it’s Ben Sasse, or John Kasich, or Jeff Flake,someone will take up the mantle of principled conservatism. There’s only one small problem. They’ll lose. And everybody knows it. And when they do, it only adds one more nail into the lid of the GOP coffin, cementing it once and for all as the party of Trump.

There are others, such as Mitch McConnell, who have built their own better-mouse-traps, but I think the point has been made. Donald Trump has built his Rube Goldberg contraption, but selfish pig that he is, he has forced everybody else to build one right along with him. And even when somebody finally lifts Trump out of his maze by the tail, the rest of them are still going to be running around, looking for the exit. This should be fun.

Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange make perfect e-stocking stuffer gifts for people you really aren't all that interested in impressing. And what better time to get reacquainted with the roller coaster that was the 2016 election cycle than before the release of the final volume of the trilogy, President Evil III, All the Presidents Fen.

Cross posted on Politizoom.com

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