Yesterday, President of the United States Donald Trump threatened the free exercise of speech in a tweet about, of course, “fake news”. Conservative Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse saw it differently and said so, also on Twitter. Then Trump talk show host Sean Trumppity Trump tweeted on Twitter about it.
We all know already what President Trump said. Here is what Senator Sasse said about what Trump said:
Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment? pic.twitter.com/XLB7QXM3bQ
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) October 12, 2017
And here is what Hannity said about what Sasse said about what Trump said:
Useless because he’s criticizing Trump. Make no mistake, that is the reason. The Sean Hannity Scale of Utility is rather a simple one.
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We’ll save for another day the discussion of the many, many mistakes of Sean Hannity’s career. For now, let’s discuss his claimed support of Ben Sasse. Let’s say for the sake of argument Hannity’s support mattered and was genuine. It must be assumed that it was based on Sasse’s status and credibility as a conservative. How has he measured up?
The Conservative Review scorecard says he’s measured up spectacularly. Here is his scorecard. He’s number 5 in the senate, just behind Senator Cruz. Cruz, you may recall, has in the past also been an opponent of Donald Trump. Interesting.
The Heritage Scorecard puts Sasse at #3 in the Senate, just behind Cruz again. He’s a top conservative by the top measures of top conservatives.
Sasse votes as a conservative on and for conservative policies that the Republican party and supposedly Sean Hannity care about. Sasse, like Cruz and Lee, is actively advocating for the policies that Hannity claims to support.
Trump wants to fund Planned Parenthood, let men into women’s bathrooms, and surrender to Obamacare.
But supporting Sasse was Hannity’s big mistake? Yeah, I don’t think so. Only by Hannity’s dumb way of measuring usefulness.
Senator Sasse nails it in his last response to Sean.
Sorry, Sean — you changed, not me. Some of us still believe in the Constitution. No President should play with censoring news they dislike. https://t.co/ZBEMNSF7nz
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) October 12, 2017
That’s exactly right. Like so many Trump apologists, Hannity is willing to let any transgression slide and to dismiss out of hand the very idea of Trump being wrong or even making an error. The reasons for this phenomenon could fill a book, and probably will. But despite any hemming and hawing from those people, it absolutely matters when the President attacks the notion of a free press. It matters when he undermines the very premises upon which American liberty rest.
Some on the right would have you believe that all of this is of no consequence or even that Trump’s idea is a good thing. They want to censor the news. Or more deviously, they call it a mere tweaking of liberals.
“Trolling” is not an excuse for discounting or contradicting the actual philosophical, moral, and intellectual principles that underlie both our American democracy and the Republican party. It is remarkable to me, and shameful, that any supposed conservative would be fine with the things that Trump routinely says in direct contradiction of those ideas, but especially on the thin grounds that he has no legal recourse to follow through. Trump is the leader of a movement. The ideas that motivate that movement matter. This should be obvious.
Whether Obama could enact it or not, it would have been worth an objection had he conjectured on Twitter that conservative talk radio hosts should be arrested. Because it matters what the President says. Just like Ben Sasse explained.
But Sean doesn’t care. Like so many former conservatives who are prominent on the right, he’s traded in policy ideas for the idea of loyalty to a man. Sad.
By the way, this highlights the weirdest aspect of all Trumpizing. People say “why does everyone react when he says something. You know he’s going to be crazy.” They are more annoyed by the response than the thing itself. It’s weird to be more annoyed by a person objecting to being punched in the face than by the person doing the punching. But that’s one of the chief arguments of Trump apologists. It’s bizarre. (Or it’s a guilty conscience intolerant of reminders.)