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If Republicans are fleeing from Trump, we may have to redefine "flee."

This was a headline in Slate magazine on December 19, 2018:

Republican Leadership Is Slowly Backing Away From Trump

Note the date. It was several days before Trump's last-minute change of heart and refusal to fund the government on a temporary basis. It was also several days before political "sages" Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity weighed in on the border wall. It was a week after Trump said he would proudly accept the blame for a government shutdown.

This Republican leadership that's backing away—can they do it any more slowly? It seems that once a week there's a defector and we all rally around him, but as for an organized movement, it appears that only the far right Freedom Caucus can actually organize. The rest of the party seems willing to hide, like Mitch McConnell, or play the milquetoast mediator. like Lindsey Graham. And I don't want to keep bashing Maine's Susan Collins (a bit of a defector) but we know where she drifted when the Kavanaugh appointment came to a head.

And worse, now we face the impending acceptance of William Barr as Attorney General, a man widely known for his willingness to cede all authority to the president. Even Jeff Sessions obeyed the law, though in light of what he did to immigrant children, that's like reminding us that Mussolini made the trains on time. But Barr, despite his affirmation that he will not sabotage the Mueller inquiry, will not rein in the president in any way. When William Barr served under George H. W. Bush, he at least dealt with a boss who understood the workings of government. That's a luxury he won't have with Trump.

And so on we go, at this glacial pace, while news stories explode and a president who lies daily—hourly—avows that he committed no treason. And still the Senate Republicans hesitate. If they are indeed backing away from Trump, there cannot be a measuring device sensitive enough to measure the speed with which they're doing it.

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