The Corner

Politics & Policy

Priebus Must Go

I’ve taken some grief from my #NeverTrump friends over Reince Priebus and his stewardship of the RNC in the Trump era (short may it reign). Where the prevailing sentiment seems to be, “Off with his head!” I’ve been something of an apologist for the beleaguered party boss.

I think the expectations placed on Priebus have been unrealistic. He’s not going to overturn primary voters’ decision to nominate Trump, nor should he be expected to do so. That’s outside his jurisdiction and not how the party works, even though Republicans — against all laws of metaphysics and logic — nominated a walking obscenity to run against the weakest Democratic candidate since Mondale. 

I’m a former military guy. One of the lessons drilled into soldiers, sailors, and cadets is never, ever leave your post unless you are formally relieved. So here’s Reince Priebus, standing his post in the middle of gale force winds. He knows Trump is the political equivalent of the Hindenburg, Bay of Pigs, and the Haitian earthquake rolled into one. He was handed a peanut butter and camel dung sandwich, and has — to date — ate it willingly. He’s even tried to put a smile on his face as he chews.

When you elect someone to a leadership post, that’s what you need. You want someone who will faithfully execute his duties, not when they’re easy, but when they are hard. As polls show the Republican party doing an authentic reenactment of the RMS Titanic’s courtship of an iceberg, there is Priebus on the bridge, stoically going down with the ship.

There’s honor in that, right?

Not so fast.

Donald Trump is teetering on the brink of a historic defeat, but Republican National Committee officials are poised to reward the party’s chairman Reince Priebus with another term. Priebus is soliciting support for January’s chairmanship election — leaving some insiders with the impression that he is preparing for a future with the party after a Trump loss.

Okay, so maybe he’s not going down with the ship.

I’m a gooey, naive Priebus defending squish and even I can’t get behind this. Here’s a lesson we can take from the British. After Prime Minister David Cameron lost the Brexit vote, he honorably resigned, citing a need for “fresh leadership” after a divisive period in his country’s history. He walked away with his dignity intact, having fought the good fight and lost.

Reince was dealt a tough hand. He played it as true to RNC rules as he could, maintaining strict neutrality in the primary then backing the GOP nominee. He can be proud of that. But this has been a terrible time for the party, and November will be equally terrible. He is, by no fault of his own, a symbol of that discord — win or lose. 

Chairman Priebus should hold his head up high, knowing that he faithfully executed the duties of the office that he swore to uphold.

And then resign with honor.

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