Saturday, October 17, 2020

Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

OCT. 19 - Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, North Dakota
OCT. 20 - Louisiana, Utah, and Wisconsin
OCT. 21 - West Virginia
OCT. 24 - Florida and New York
OCT. 26 - Maryland
OCT. 27 - Washington, D.C.
OCT. 29 - Oklahoma

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lost his temper at yet another "disloyal" Republican.

On Thursday, audio leaked of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) sharply criticizing Trump on a phone call with constituents. 

So there are definitely places where we agree. But, as your question says, there are obviously a lot of places where he and I differ as well. And these aren’t just mere policy issues. And I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican, but for an American. So the way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers.

I mean, he and I have a very different foreign policy. It isn’t just that he fails to lead our allies, is that the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women, and spends like a drunken sailor, the ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending, I criticize President Trump for it as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists. I mean, the places where we differed on COVID. He, at the beginning of the COVID crisis, he refused to treat it seriously for months, he treated it like a news cycle by news cycle PR crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is.

And that, I mean, in his partial defense here, I think that lots of the news media has pretended that COVID is literally the first public health crisis ever, and somehow it’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s not true. They just wanted to use it against him. But the reality is, that he careened from curb to curb. First he ignored COVID, and then he went into full economic shutdown mode. He was the one who said, 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this. And that was always wrong. I mean, and so I don’t think the way he’s led through COVID has been reasonable, or responsible, or right.

It's important to understand the context for Sasse's remarks. There's no such thing as privacy when senators address large groups of constituents, and he would have known that the recording would leak. Sasse is hardly alone among prominent Republicans in distancing himself from Trump. There's always been a sharp divide in the party between those not holding elected office (including scores of former Trump administration officials), who tend to be much more critical, and those Republicans who couldn't risk that Trump would try to turn their own constituents against them. 

But recently, more and more elected Republicans are either rebuking Trump outright, or going to heroic lengths to downplay their support for him, as Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) did at a recent debate:

Normally, presidential candidates give members of their own party permission to keep their distance where the top of the ticket is less popular than the local politicians. But Trump, who is staggeringly unpopular for an incumbent, continues to demand absolute personal loyalty, and to punish it where he finds it lacking. And today, he lashed out at Sasse on Twitter—not only deepening the divide in the party, but making sure that a much wider audience heard what Sasse had to say.

Just over two weeks from Election Day, Republicans stand a much better chance of holding the Senate than Trump does of being re-elected, but the odds are dwindling. For example, Trump is so unpopular in Maine, where Sen. Susan Collins is vulnerable, that Democrats are campaigning against her simply by putting her name next to his on signs.

Why does this matter?

  • It shouldn't be this easy to get under a president's skin.
  • It's not very smart to call attention to people who are criticizing you.