When Worms Play Politics
Ben Sasse, at a very young age, has already risen to the top of both the academic and political pyramids — proof positive that he is a slimy glad-handing dandy and self-promoting double-talker of the highest order. Today’s big headline in Republican implosion news is that Donald Trump has gone on a Twitter tirade against Sasse, after “leaked audio” (please!) from a telephone town hall in Nebraska revealed the latter speaking disrespectfully of Trump’s first term, and aggressively distancing himself from the president.
Among his comments during that long distance town hall, as quoted by Politico:
“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican blood bath in the Senate, and that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train,” Sasse reportedly said during the call. “It’s why I didn’t agree to be on his re-election committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him.”
In other words, since the tribal game (winning the Senate) is the only thing that really matters, he has — so he claims — kept himself at arm’s length from a president who might jeopardize that tribal “victory.” Spoken like a true multi-arena political climber. He is clearly vying to replace Mitch McConnell as GOP senate leader down the road, portraying himself as a team player whose team is strictly the GOP faction in the senate, rather than the United States of America.
Perhaps realizing that he had revealed his careerist cynicism a little too plainly with that remark about distancing himself from the president purely for purposes of electoral survival at all costs, Sasse then went through a minor litany of complaints against Trump — many of them quite true and legitimate, in fact:
During the call, Sasse also laid into the president for turning a blind eye to human rights and treating the Covid-19 pandemic “like a PR crisis.”
“The way he kisses dictators’ butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uyghurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers,” Sasse said. “He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with White supremacists.”
He is right about Trump’s sycophancy with dictators, his cowardice in confronting their tyrannical actions, his disrespect for his own base, and his unwillingness to disavow anyone who might support him personally.
Sasse’s Covid-19 comment is a giveaway, however, as it suggests he is willing to play to the progressive squeaky wheels — to stick to “mainstream opinion” — for the sake of looking like a concerned and intelligent modern man. Once again spoken like a true climbing academic. This is the same Senator Sasse who used the Marxist hit-job on Brett Kavanaugh as a soapbox to proclaim the MeToo hashtag an “important movement,” and to declare that he had told Trump to nominate a woman for that supreme court vacancy in order to preemptively avoid sexual discrimination or harassment accusations. Yup, that’s a modern university president talking alright.
In response to this stab in the back from Sasse, Donald Trump responded the way he consistently does to criticism from any quarter — be it from a decorated general, a longtime employee, or a respected academic — namely in the manner of a twelve-year-old mean girl throwing a temper tantrum that consists mostly of screaming that the other girl is ugly.
The least effective of our 53 Republican Senators, and a person who truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great, is Little Ben Sasse of Nebraska,” Trump tweeted, calling him a “liability” to their party.
You know he has run out of steam when he is recycling nicknames. “Little Ben Sasse,” Mr. Ex-President? Now what are you going to call Marco Rubio when he jumps on this save-our-hides bandwagon over the next two weeks? As for Sasse being “the least effective” of all GOP senators, I would love to see Trump name fifteen of those fifty-three senators, let alone cite three things one of those fifteen has done in the senate — Master Mitch excepted, of course. And while it is certainly true that Sasse lacks “what it takes to be great,” this criticism is awfully cute coming from the single biggest fraud in the history of electoral politics. “Takes one to know one” is an annoyingly childish retort, of course; and yet it seems remarkably fitting for this occasion, not least because it suits Trump’s rhetorical and intellectual level to a T.
Two worms fighting over who deserves the most dirt. In other words, modern democratic politics.