You know by now, because everyone in the world now knows, that the President of the United States called African countries and Haiti “shithole countries,” according to “several people briefed on the meeting.” Trump later bragged about it to friends.
In the minds of Republican lawmakers, this is a problem. Not the racist garbage the President said, but the fact the someone repeated it to the public. Rand Paul is now telling us there can’t be an immigration compromise if people are running around calling the President a racist.
The premise that racist sentiments spoken by party leaders in private should not be repeated in public because allowing party leaders to be racist in private is important for legislative comity is word-for-word the argument used by decades of past southern Republicans. Presenting the two as equal sins—speaking racist things, and informing the public when racist things have been spoken—using the rhetoric of “both sides” behaving badly is the sort of moral grease fire Republican senators have long loved to simmer in.
And why would they turn on him now, after backing Trump for so long? It’s not as if they didn’t know he’s a racist; white supremacy is his brand, and a core value of the Republican Party.