John Merrow and I cling to a belief that once upon a time there was a Republican party that was reasonable and genuinely concerned about the future of the nation. We think of people like Eisenhower and McCain.

But Merrow identifies a day when he says the GOP as we once knew it actually died: The day that Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education. Actually, it was two days. The first was when the Senate Committee approved her nomination, with the assent of Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, despite her inability to answer the most basic questions about education law or practice. The second was when the Senate confirmed her.

The Republican Party fell in line behind the most unqualified person in the nation because Trump wanted her. That was reason enough, which mattered more than the fact that she had spent her entire life attacking public schools. Perhaps no less important was that most of the senators who voted to approve her, as Senator Bernie Sanders pointed out at the time, had received large campaign contributions from her. No principle was involved. Just votes for cash.

All the Senators on the committee fell into line and gave Trump the completely unqualified nominee he proposed.

Only one Republican vote on the Senate committee would have doomed DeVos’s nomination. Neither Susan Collins nor Lisa Murkowski was willing to vote no and kill the DeVos nomination. They voted yes in committee, then “No” on the Senate floor, when their votes could not stop her. Vice President Pence, as choreographed, broken the tie to approve this unqualified person.

Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Lamar Alexander were profiles in cowardice. They voted to approve clueless, incompetent Betsy DeVos, who was unleashed to wreak havoc on the nation’s public schools.

Merrow adds:

Fun fact: Trump’s first choice for Secretary of Education was the now-infamous Jerry Falwell, Jr, who told CBS he turned down the job because Trump wanted at least a 4-year commitment that Falwell said he couldn’t make because Liberty University needed him.

Trump also interviewed Michelle Rhee and Eva Moskowitz. Any of them would have demonstrated his hostility to public schools and his determination to undermine them. Too bad Falwell said no. His exposure at this moment would have added to the circus atmosphere of the campaign.