E.J. Dionne on Ben Sasse’s Failure to Oppose Donald Trump’s “National Emergency”

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Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump.  Yet rarely does his opposition to Trump move beyond words.  For example, when twelve GOP senators broke with their party to oppose Donald Trump’s “national emergency” declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border, Sasse supported the president.  The conservative Washington Examiner called Sasse’s decision “myopic.”

Over at Commonweal, E.J. Dionne wonders when Sasse is going to take a stand against the president.  Last week I described Sasse’s failure to vote against the national emergency by invoking a line from the musical Hamilton: “If you stand for nothing, Ben, what will you fall for?”

Here is a taste of Dionne’s piece:

But the real takeaway here is the support Trump still won from the vast majority of Republicans—and, in particular, the abject capitulation of many who had suggested or said outright that they would oppose his invocation of emergency powers. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., wrote in The Washington Post last month that “I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.” Yet, when the roll was called, he did exactly that, supporting Trump’s “emergency.” The Post’s Aaron Blake rightly called it “a flip flop for the ages.”

The most disappointing vote came from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a principled Trump opponent from the earliest days of the 2016 primaries. Sasse issued an intellectually vacuous statement saying that as a “constitutional conservative,” he thinks the president’s emergency powers are too broad. But he justified his vote to go along with Trump by trashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “bare-knuckled politics.” This sounded like projection, since the “bare-knuckled politics” was on Trump’s side. Sasse, like Tillis, is on the ballot in 2020.

My first encounter with Sasse was in January 2016. He was in Iowa to speak on behalf of every major Republican running against Trump. I respected his gutsy willingness to see Trump as exactly who he is. “He’s a strongman with a will to power,” Sasse told me then. “Trump has been the only guy on the Republican side of the aisle that regularly campaigns and says things like, ‘If I’m elected president, I’ll be able to do whatever I want.’” 

Three years on, we know that Sasse was right from the start. But what are he and his Republican colleagues willing to do about it? For a majority of them, sadly including Sasse himself, the answer is: precious little.

Read the entire piece here.

3 thoughts on “E.J. Dionne on Ben Sasse’s Failure to Oppose Donald Trump’s “National Emergency”

  1. James: apropos of your comment, here is self-described liberal and iconic newsman Ted Koppel — who himself believes Trump is a fiasco, but who is at least honest about what the MSM has become — in remarks this week:

    “We are not talking about The Washington Post of 50 years ago. We’re talking about organizations that I believe have, in fact, decided as organizations that Donald J. Trump is bad for the United States…. I turned to my wife [in 2016], and I said ‘The Times is absolutely committed to making sure that this guy does not get elected.’ So his perception that the establishment press is out to get him doesn’t mean that great journalism is not being done. It is. But the notion that most of us look upon Donald Trump as being an absolute fiasco, he’s not mistaken in that perception, and he’s not mistaken when so many of the liberal media, for example, described themselves as belonging to the Resistance. What does that mean? That’s not said by people who consider themselves reporters, objective reporters of facts.”

    The mask is fully off, and has been for quite some time. I give credit to Koppel for acknowledging this glaring reality.

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    • Tony,
      You are right on point. Ted K. is an old school journalist who tried to report on the stories rather than engaging in overt partisanship. The most annoying thing about the mainstream media today is their facade of objectivity.

      James

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  2. E.J. Dionne, a predictably reliable shill for any Democrat, indicates that he is disappointed that Ben Sasse did not vote with the handful of GOP senators who opposed Trump’s efforts to build a wall using emergency means. When E.J. finally begins posturing about the moral inconsistencies of two or three DEM senators, I might take him seriously. In the meantime he is nothing but a partisan posing as a thoughtful and principled commentator.

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