With his comments Wednesday, Trump has finally knocked over what was once a pillar of the Republican Party’s system of beliefs. For decades, the party has stood united behind the principle that the United States must have a strong national defense, take aggressive behavior by adversaries seriously, and confront threats with resolve.
Richard Nixon pioneered scurrilous national security attacks against Democrats in his 1950 California Senatorial campaign against Helen Gahagan Douglas. The beauty of these attacks is they work as whisper campaigns, and adequate proof is never required for accusations to stick. They are hard to defend against, which is why they have been the GOP's number one tool for the last 67 years. Now, because Donald Trump is not as clever as Richard Nixon, these attacks can't be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future. It's hard to emphasize enough just how important Trump's press conference today was in the scope of American political history.