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Abandon, isolate and criticize President Trump, senators.

It's the only option left for Senate Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, if moral clarity and intellectual honesty are of any value. 

President Donald Trump showed himself to be incapable of responding to crisis following this month's deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump initially said nothing as armed neo-Nazis converged on the city's park. He waffled when they clashed with counter-protesters. And he fumbled his response, ultimately declaring those who protest racial hatred are on equal moral standing with those who claim genetic racial superiority.

It's 2017 and the President of the United States can't bring himself to rebuke Nazism out of political necessity. Ponder that for a second. 

Trump is cornered by his own rhetoric. He's a slave to his base. And he's unwilling to criticize its even most disgusting elements. All this from a man who attacks just about any individual or group that annoys him. 

Not so for Iowa's U.S. senators. Grassley and Ernst each came out early, blasting the wanna-be fascists. They followed up with a no-nonsense statement after Trump's dumpster fire of a press conference on Tuesday, where he again tried to pin last weekend's havoc on people standing up to Nazism. In so doing, Grassley and Ernst drew a clear, distinct line between themselves and the White House's affinity for white nationalism. They were, however, careful not to attack the president. 

The GOP flight from Trump's sinking administration is quiet but real. But after this past week, any Republican with moral sense should feel unbound by partisan loyalty and directly repudiate Trump. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney got the memo.  

The nation's top CEOs don't even want to be in the same room as the president. 

For months, Senate Republicans have slowly distanced themselves from Trump. Issue by issue, total chaos in the White House has left Congress on its own. The president doomed health care reform from the beginning with his total disinterest in the nuance of the issue.

Last month, Ernst broke with the White House when, out of the blue, Trump decided to give his base a little red meat and ban transgender Americans from the armed forces. So troubled with Trump's constant attack on the rule of law, Grassley threatened to withhold any nomination hearing for a new attorney general if Trump fired Jeff Session over Russia investigation-driven rage.

No doubt, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn't all too keen on Trump, either. The president, for whatever reason, thought it politically wise to spend a week blasting McConnell for the health care debacle.

But a slow pivot isn't enough when the president has proven himself unhinged. Only a full rebuke will do. 

Trump is dangerously incapable of doing the job. He knows only conflict, resentment and division. He demands total allegiance while offering none in return. And it's tearing the country apart. 

The only possible outcome, if the country's political and moral health is of any concern, is for Trump to attain lame duck status at record speed. He's already nearing that notorious label just eight months into his presidency. On the world stage, long-time U.S. allies have already come to terms that they are on their own. Domestically, Trump's own impulsive narcissism has left his agenda in tatters.

The Republican agenda is better off without him. 

Trump is, in a very real sense, devaluing the presidency. By words and actions, his is an unserious presidency that flouts ethics and the rule of law for sport. Trump is a symptom of a moral decay that's sat too long on the fringes of the Republican Party and now demands real power. 

House Republicans are too subject to the right-wing media to stand up and censure or isolate Trump. Any leadership in Washington must come from the Senate.

It demands full-throated rebuke of a president with no set of beliefs outside of his own inflated ego. And it merits tossing aside the party-first dogma that's neutered Congress for years. 

And, in so doing, Senate Republicans must fully break with the president and go it alone. It's best for the GOP and the country.

Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Autumn Phillips, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander, City Editor Dan Bowerman, Associate Editor Bill Wundram and community representative John Wetzel.

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