He of the ducktail Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

When I spotted this Washington Post headline, I finally understood what’s been going on with the Republicans: “John McCain still supports Donald Trump, even though he lacks ‘the necessary strategy’ in foreign affairs.”

McCain is desperate and pathetic, I first thought. He despises Trump but he’ll say anything to get reelected. 

Which is probably true. But then I reminded myself of what else McCain has said. He supports Trump, but thinks Trump’s made “uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues.” He supports Trump, even though “I have never seen the personalization of a campaign like this one, where people’s integrity and character are questioned.” (That would include McCain’s own—”I like people that weren’t captured,” said Trump of McCain, a former Vietnam war POW.) 

But when I thought twice, it occurred to me that because McCain supports Trump, he can say anything about him he wants to! So can other top Republicans. Trump isn’t so rash that he’d completely alienate whatever big-name supporters he has left.

Here are some other examples:

Former Senate majority leader Trett Lott supports Trump, even though Trump’s said things “that gave me an upset stomach.” 

House speaker Paul Ryan supports Trump, even though what Trump said about the Mexican judge was “racist” and “absolutely unacceptable.” Ryan supports Trump even though “anti-Semitic images—they’ve got no place in a presidential campaign” and Trump “has got to clean this up.” 

Senator Marco Rubio supports Trump, even though when Trump shot his mouth off about the Mexican judge, Rubio said, “All I can tell you is I ran for president and I warned you this is what was going to happen.”

Senator Dan Sullivan supports Trump, even though he disagrees with “some of his rhetoric, some of his policy, certainly some of his instincts on national security and foreign policy.” 

For a time Illinois senator Mark Kirk said he’d support Trump too. But eventually he decided Trump is “too bigoted and racist for the Land of Lincoln” and “does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.” This repudiation made headlines for a day.

But because journalists no longer wonder how much Kirk will put up with, they have no reason to pay attention to anything he has to say about Trump in the future. 

They’ll continue to hang on McCain’s every word.