So much Wynning! Will Republicans give back the money?

Kansas billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin, left, poses with Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn, and Donald Trump, right, Tuesday, July 12, 2005 in Las Vegas.

Kansas billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin, left, poses with Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn, and Donald Trump, right, Tuesday, July 12, 2005 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta)

Before the Steve Wynn brouhaha fades from memory, we need to note this classic case of Republican hypocrisy.

Granted, we’re numb to such episodes; nailing the GOP for hypocrisy is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. But when you recall that Republicans professed to be morally horrified about Harvey Weinstein, and demanded that all Democrats show respect for women by forfeiting Harvey’s donations … well, their muted reaction to the serial harasser in their midst does seem a tad asymmetric.

In 2017 and until this weekend, casino mogul and Trump pal Steve Wynn served as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He quit suddenly on Saturday after he was outed by The Wall Street Journal — you know, the “liberal” media — for what the paper called a “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct.” The Journal, after interviewing 150 current and former Wynn employees, dished all kind of dirty details, including forced sex in a confined office where Wynn’s German shepherds were “trained to respond to commands in German.”

The Republican National Committee should be denouncing Wynn’s donations as dirty money, right? Like the $200,000 he personally gave to Republicans in 2017, the $2.5 million he has given to the Republican Governors Association, and even the $121 million he raised in ’17 as RNC finance chairman? Every Republicans who has been blessed by Wynn’s  largesse should be giving it all back, right? After all, this appears to be Republican policy:

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“If you stand for treating women well and you stand for the respect of women, you shouldn’t take the money from somebody who treated women with the absolute highest level of disrespect.”

So said national GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel — oh wait! That’s what she said last fall about the Democrats, in the wake of the Weinstein revelations. She said that “returning Weinstein’s dirty money should be a no-brainer.” But in the four days since The Journal broke its news about Wynn, the chairwoman hasn’t hurled a single moral thunderbolt. She managed one terse sentence on Saturday (“Today I accepted Steve Wynn’s resignation”), but for some reason she has not demanded that Republicans show respect for women by returning Wynn’s money.

How come that’s not a no-brainer? Perhaps her radio silence — echoed by virtually everyone in the party, except for a few senators — stems from the fact that she and Wynn worked in tandem. They recently co-hosted a lavish fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago to celebrate one year of Trump. Or perhaps the GOP’s double standard stems from this perverse contemporary truth:

Republicans, having lashed themselves to Trump’s tattered mast, have become so shamelessly amoral that nobody expects them to behave any better. At this point their bar is set so low that nobody even blinks when when they manage to slither beneath it.

Remember, this is the same Republican National Committee that abets a boastful sexual harasser in the Oval Office, the same RNC that recently helped finance a credibly accused child molester in Alabama. Given its track record, why should we expect it to denounce a Trump-loving mogul who ordered an underling to masturbate him? Why should we expect it to demand the return of the mogul’s donations, as it did with Weinstein? Why should we be surprised that the party assailed Weinstein as evil, but (in the weekend words of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen) still hails Wynn as “truly a great man”?

Because they’ve gone so far down the path of hypocritical degradation, what’s one more pit stop?

Do they care? Nah. High standards are for Democrats. Democrats sacrificed Al Franken to advertise their moral rectitude – to which Republicans have basically said, “Whatever. You play your game, we’ll play ours.” It’s so much easier to break bad, to display no shame.

Kudos to the smattering of Republicans who’ve copped to having a conscience — Georgia congresswoman Karen Handel has donated her Wynn money to a domestic violence program; Senator Susan Collins says that returning Wynn’s money isn’t even “a close call,” and colleague Lindsey Graham says “we should do of ourselves what we ask of the Democratic party” — but the rest of them can apparently live with themselves. They’re too far gone to behave any better.

Somebody posing as a credible president of the United States is delivering a State of the Union speech tomorrow night. Here’s what he said about climate change, in an interview this weekend with Britain’s Piers Morgan. If you think this sounds like a troll, or perhaps like the idiot uncle you’re forced to endure once a year at Thanksgiving, hey, I get it.

“There is a cooling and there is a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming, right? That wasn’t working too well because it was getting cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now but no they’re setting records. Now they’re at a record level. There are so many things happening. I tell you what I believe in — clean air, I believe in crystal-clear, beautiful water, I believe in just having good cleanliness and all.”

Wait a sec … Trump says the ice caps are “setting records?” They’re “at a record level?” Isn’t reality precisely the opposite? No wonder we’re numb. The low bar just dropped another notch.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal