I hope you don’t have big plans to spend the July 22 week end in Columbus. That’s the-save the-date Ohio Republican dinner in which the state capital will be clogged with traffic of hay wagons, flivvers and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s motorcycle from the remote Republican districts that now dominate the state’s political culture in the fatal grip of Donald Trump’s legions. By every measure, the party would have it no other way.

We need no further evidence than the breathless appearance of Vice President Mike Pence as the featured speaker – a gala that could only have been arranged by the party’s new chairman, Jane Timken.

She brings money and the sort of daunting power that drove Kasich’s chairman, Matt Borges, out of the office as one off her first notices of command derived from a potent industrial name. Trump couldn’t have chosen a better fit for the party of which he is no more than a nominal member.

Even Timken took up the narrative in solidifying the Trump Travesty (a family business, George Will calls it) in her personal invitation to the stragglers – as if any of them, state lawmakers and lobbyists, dared to ignore the event.

As she put it: “We are excited and honored that the vice president will take time to address Ohio Republicans and update us on what he and the Trump Administration are doing to Make America Great again!”

It’s as though he has other pressing matters to occupy his time. They could have, however, spared him the flight on Air Force 2 from Washington to Columbus if they had hired a local minister instead for the invocation.

In fairness the invitation was written before Donald Jr. poured out his heart to confess that indeed he had a sitdown with Russian gangland interests offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the last campaign. The president insisted he didn’t know about the meeting, which is one of the few things that made any sense since the tryst was on a need-to-know basis.

I never know what to make of Pence and his boring benign smile and that troubles me since he could be no more than a single tweet away from the presidency himself. That thrills Renacci, an early Trump cupbearer who boasted he was “honored” to travel to a metal fabrication company with Pence.

With Renacci, a wealthy operative running for governor, it’s all about jobs, even when it’s mostly about cutting the taxes of the richest among us.

“I am grateful that the Trump Administration supports an agenda that will provide for economic growth and better paying jobs for Northeast Ohioans,” Renacci reported online.

A progressive Ohio is still not on the radar.

 

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