In the past month, several leading Republicans have voiced serious concerns about the leadership and temperament of President Donald Trump. But Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) is not among them.
In August, Bob Corker, a Tennessee senator who had endorsed Trump during last year’s election, issued a statement condemning Trump’s leadership, saying that the president lacked “stability” and “competence.”
On Oct. 4, Corker said that secretary of state Rex Tillerson, secretary of defense James Mattis, and Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly were the only people who “help separate our country from chaos.”
On Oct. 8, Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.) blasted Trump, tweeting:
In an interview with the New York Times published the same day, Corker said,
“[Trump] concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.” Corker added that the president was running his office like “a reality show,” and expressed fear that his recklessness could set the world “on the path to World War III.”
Corker also reiterated his concerns about how the White House operates, saying, “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”
The Tennessee senator expressed condemned the president’s many and frequent lies, saying “I don’t know why the president tweets out things that are not true. You know he does it, everyone knows he does it, but he does.”
Unlike Corker, Jeff Flake (R.-Arizona) is a longtime Trump critic. Flake refused to endorse Trump during the 2016 election, and in his new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle, he decried Trump’s adoption “of populism, nativism, and demagoguery” to achieve victory in last year’s election, warning, “The crash from this sugar high will be particularly unpleasant.”
On Wednesday, Flake delivered a blistering speech from the Senate floor in which he reminded his fellow senators to “never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals.”
“We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country; the personal attacks; the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth and decency; the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing to do with the fortunes of the people we have been elected to serve.”
Former president George W. Bush also lobbed a few thinly-veiled volleys toward Trump this month. In a speech at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Bush lamented the current social and political climate without mentioning Trump by name. “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty.”
Trump, for his part, has dismissed the criticism of Flake and Corker, suggesting that they only attacked him because they were not running for reelection.
Trump is probably correct. Members of Congress who stand up to Trump risk the wrath of their own party’s base.
But that doesn’t make Flake and Corker’s criticism untrue. Nor does it absolve other Republicans－including Rep. Paulsen－of the responsibility to speak out, even if it means risking their political careers to do so. How much longer will he continue to stay on the sidelines while others speak out against our dishonest, dangerous, and vindictive president?
Featured image via YouTube video.