Ben Sasse likes to posture as a decent, moral man, standing for principle despite standing with a party led by Donald Trump. And every time he strikes that pose, he underlines what a contemptible coward he is. In everything that matters, Sasse is right there for Trump. But every so often he emerges, as he did in a telephone town hall with thousands of constituents on Wednesday, to emphasize that he’s somehow better than Trump.
Asked why he’s so critical of Trump, Sasse made clear that his major concern is electoral. “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,” he said, suggesting that Trump could damage Republicans for years to come with groups of voters including women and young people. That’s crucial: While Sasse will get attention for his other, more substantive criticisms of Trump, when it comes down to it, his “that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train” is about losing Senate seats.
So, yeah, Sasse said Trump’s values are “deficient, not just for a Republican but for an American.” Of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “For months, he treated it like a news-cycle-by-news-cycle P.R. crisis.”
Sasse complained of ”The way he kisses dictators’ butts.” Specifically, “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.” Going on, he whined that “The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor.”
Okay, Ben, but unless you’re going to do something about it, shut the hell up. Constantly insisting on a version of yourself in which you are noble and moral and forthright while never acting on those supposed values is simply cowardice. Sasse’s values don’t extend to having voted for conviction on Trump’s abuse of power. Sasse’s values don’t preclude packing the Supreme Court—he might think Trump is crass, but he’s right there with him on that. Sasse is right there on that even though he claims to be primarily concerned about Senate losses and polls show that rushing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination through the Senate is not popular with voters.
Every damn time it matters, Sasse is right there with the vote Trump wants from him. Then he strikes a pose so obvious you can see him having practiced it in the mirror and insists he is better than all that Trumpiness. It’s pathetic.