Ron DeSanctimonious: A Brief (Vocabulary) Lesson

Did you have vocabulary lessons in school, the kind where you were assigned the memorization of some 25 words per…was it week? Despite not being a native English speaker, once I picked up the language I excelled in these language-expanding exercises. And I know for sure that one of the words I learned was the word “sanctimonious”. It’s not a common word, so you’ll forgive me when I say that, as of the time of this writing—literally, of this sentence—I don’t remember what “sanctimonious” means. But I intend to remind myself its meaning because the word, we know, has ascended out of the shadows, has been pushed straight into the spotlight, thanks to professional nicknamer and probable GOP candidate (for the third time!), Mr. Trump.

Ron DeSantis, i.e., Ron DeSanctimonious has dropped out of the Republican primary. What does sanctimonious mean, and might its definition illuminate our present times?

First, I note that I will be looking for the definition on my internet dictionary of choice: The Free Dictionary.

It notes that sanctimonious is an adjective and means:

  1. Behaving with sanctimony
  2. Characterized by sanctimony

A scroll down from those unhelpful definitions reveals the following expansion:

  1. Affecting piety or making a display of holiness

Okay, not particularly helpful as to whether the piety is genuine, or the display of holiness good. One more scroll:

  1. Showing or marked by false piety or righteousness; hypocritically virtuous.

Well, eat her up and leave no crumbs, no ambivalence, no confusion as to the status of things, Ms. Honey. Just to make sure that last definition—you know, the actually helpful one—was accurate, I double checked with Mirriam-Webster for those who still don’t know that appeals to authority are a logical fallacy, and, yes, that last definition holds.

So, a sanctimonious person is one who does not practice what they preach; a holier-than-thou presence; someone completely unaware of how far they have fallen from grace. Thankfully for Republicans, they have a shorter term, an acronym, that basically means the same thing and is easier to remember.

Ron DeSanctimonious, in common parlance, translates to Ron DeRINO, or Republican in Name Only—another Trumpian contribution to America’s vocabulary book. The RINO term has proved an extremely useful invective for Trump to use, at his exclusive leisure, as a shorthand for his supporters to know who to revile, ignore, or deride. Watch a Republican politician get branded a RINO and an X (previously known as Twitter, as we are all quick to remind ourselves) post will quickly surface about how they’re above name-calling and oh so focused on their district or the proud people of Florida. And watch them fall into obsolescence because Mr. Trump said we’re going to ignore you now.

There seemed to be hope when the GOP primary began and continued that, maybe Christie, maybe DeSantis, maybe Haley—Scott, Pence, Hutchinson, Ramaswamy!—would take enough of Trump’s thunder. Fox news appeared to be chastened by the Dominion lawsuit that went a billion dollars not in their favor, such that they no longer allowed themselves to be the personal media arm of the Trump campaign. A legal conclusion that Trump was adjudicated to be a rapist, dozens of criminal indictments, state trials, federal trials, even a Supreme Court showdown—surely the “But no more mean Tweets” crowd could see that Mr. Trump had more going on than “mean tweets.”

Iowa went for Trump. DeSantis has since bowed out and endorsed Trump. Haley remains and is the only Meaningful in Name Only (MINO) opposition to Trump clinching the GOP nomination. Her position now as challenger is only nominal. As the de facto runner-up, Haley can devote all her energies to differentiating herself from Trump. The problem is that she would be doing so after saying that she isn’t obsessed with Trump, like Christie was. She doesn’t attack Trump or differentiate herself from Trump, she said, because she doesn’t think about Trump. I wonder if she still feels the same, with an Iowa result 31.9% points behind Trump.

All GOP candidates, Trump included, spent their campaigns outlining their own resumes and praising Trump’s policies. Pence had a little problem with what happened on January 6th, but he was otherwise extremely proud of the Trump-Pence administration. Haley will join a cadre of ex-Trump officials who, by the time they went on the attack, realized it was far too little, far, far, far too late. I admit it’s hard not to experience schadenfreude from seeing Trump’s ex-devotees suddenly come out against the guy to warn the rest of us about how horrible he is, and the threat he poses to greater society. I’d be sweating bullets if I was Bill Barr by now. Maybe that’s why he wouldn’t rule out a Trump endorsement in the future, or at least a vote.

The entire GOP is Ron DeSanctimonious now. If Haley attacks, it will be seen as a clear reaction to her sudden second place landing—clearly a politician’s move. So sanctimonious. It’s clear from the “no more mean Tweets” crowd that Haley couldn’t well present herself as the palatable presentation of Trump’s policies—Pence was better suited for that. Christie tried direct attacks against Trump, which Haley described as “obsessed.” GOP voters have come to fully believe the message that America has no money, that we are too embroiled in world conflicts—of what use is previous experience as UN Ambassador? The present GOP would do away with the UN if it could. And unless the next set of primaries delivers massive upsets, we know the present GOP is ready to do away with anyone who isn’t Trump.

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