Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Indeed, as the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows. The question now is: Do Democrats want to share a “bed” with people who have supported President Donald Trump until recently? The answer should be a resounding yes if Democrats are truly committed to making Trump a one-term president.
No one is a more glaring example of a potentially strange bedfellow than Trump’s former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who stood in the White House briefing room in July 2017 and declared, “I love the President. I’m very, very loyal to the President.” He even added, “The President has really good karma … and he’s genuinely a wonderful human being.”
That same Scaramucci, who was fired 11 days later for sharing with a reporter a profanity-laced attack on Trump administration officials he didn’t like, is now publicly slamming Trump in countless TV appearances. And, in an op-ed he penned for The Washington Post last week, he called on his fellow Republicans “to summon the nerve to speak out on the record against Trump.” Scaramucci is not only using words to defeat Trump in 2020. A few days ago, he announced he’s in the process of starting a political action committee to “dismantle” Trump.
But Scaramucci isn’t the only former Trump supporter who has turned on the President. On Sunday, former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh announced he was formally challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “We’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit, completely unfit to be president and it stuns me that nobody stepped up.” Walsh later went one step further, saying something that I bet will elicit a fiery tweet from Trump: “Everybody in the Republican party believes he’s unfit.”
Regarding Scaramucci, there has been a great deal of skepticism over his supposed anti-Trump conversion. From liberal cable news hosts to progressive listeners who called my SiriusXM show, many wonder if he can be trusted to be a true ally in the 2020 race. And I completely understand. After all, in addition to praising Trump from the White House podium, Scaramucci declared his “love” for Trump in 2017 and even noted in his Aug. 11, 2019, tweet that, “For the last 3 years I have fully supported this President.” (Scaramucci, though, has criticized the President at times – most notably Trump’s response to the 2017 Charlottesville white supremacist attack.)
And, in the case of Walsh, his record is far worse. This is a guy who trafficked in birtherism, called former President Barack Obama “a Muslim,” and tweeted in 2016, “Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.” (Walsh has since indicated his remorse, saying that “The beauty of what President Trump has done is he’s made me reflect on some of the things I’ve said in the past. I had strong policy disagreements with Barack Obama, and too often I’ve let those policy disagreements get personal.”)
In addition, Walsh supported Trump’s December 2015 call for a “total and complete” ban of Muslims coming into this country, tweeting, “Trump is right. Polls show most Muslims believe in Sharia Law. Sharia isn’t compatible w our values. Why the hell would we want them here?” On Friday, Walsh expressed remorse and apologized for saying “hurtful things about Islam.”
So, the big question is: How should Democrats respond to the Mooches and Walshes of this surreal political world we live in? Scaramucci addressed that very point in his op-ed after first admitting his “errors in judgment.” He made a plea for Democrats to accept people like him: “To members of the so-called resistance, please leave room on the off-ramp for those willing to admit their mistakes.”
And Scaramucci is right – to a certain extent. Democrats should leave room for the former Trump supporters who now are joining Democrats in their quest to defeat Trump. And the reason is simple: Trump supporters probably will never listen to Democrats, but these former Trump super fans might be effective at reaching those on the right who have grown increasingly uncomfortable with Trump.
Scaramucci is plugged into the financial side of the political world and might be able to entice others like him – who were benefiting from Trump’s tax policies and financial deregulation but were growing disgusted with Trump’s bigotry – to not support Trump in 2020.
And Walsh, a radio show host since losing reelection in 2012 and a frequent guest on cable news, could be effective in reaching rank-and-file Republicans, since he speaks their language. For example, Walsh was a Tea Party Republican when the Tea Party was known for championing lower federal budget deficits. In contrast, under Trump, the deficit is exploding, expected to hit $1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year. Walsh may be able to pick off some fellow Tea Party Republicans on that issue alone.
The 2020 election likely will be a nail biter. In other words, if Scaramucci and Walsh can help peel off even a small percentage of votes from Trump, that might be just enough to defeat him. And that’s something Democrats should be supporting – even if they don’t fully share their “beds” with these men.