Texas Sen. John Cornyn has been a stalwart defender of President Donald Trump. Like, big time.
In fact, of the current 53 Republicans in the Senate, only Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler and North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer have voted more often in support of Trump’s policies, according to 538’s vote-tracker.
Which is why it’s sort of funny – or, maybe more accurately, sad – that Cornyn, now facing a serious test for reelection on November 3, is trying to present himself as something other than an ardent backer of the President’s policies.
In an interview with the Fort Worth Star Telegram editorial board on Friday, Cornyn said his relationship with Trump was “maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they’re going to change their spouse, and that doesn’t usually work out very well.”
Er, OK. But wait, there’s more! So. Much More.
There’s this (bolding is mine):
“I think what we found is that we’re not going to change President Trump, He is who he is. You either love him or hate him, and there’s not much in between. What I tried to do is not get into public confrontations and fights with him because, as I’ve observed, those usually don’t end too well.”
And this (bolding again is mine):
“But when I have had differences of opinion, which I have, (I) do that privately. I have found that has allowed me to be much more effective, I believe, than to satisfy those who say I ought to call him out or get into a public fight with him.”
OK, OK. So, this is rich.
What Cornyn would like the voters of Texas to believe is that, despite the fact that 538 says he supported Trump’s policies 95% of the time, he actually disagreed with the President regularly but always did so in private. On what issues? Deficits and trade, according to Cornyn. And how did his private opposition influence Trump’s positions on these key issues? It appears the answer is not at all.
It is a remarkable thing that Cornyn is attempting here. Faced with a surprisingly competitive reelection race – due in no small part to the fact that Trump is underperforming in Texas and dragging the rest of his party down with him – Cornyn is trying to argue to voters that he actually hasn’t been a rubber stamp for Trump. He opposed Trump lots of times! Just in private! So that Trump wouldn’t be mean to him on Twitter! And where it’s impossible to prove whether or not he ever actually did voice any significant opposition!
(On a related note: Over the weekend, at my house, I dunked a basketball on a 10-foot hoop. Unfortunately, no one saw it. And it’s not on tape. But I did it. Trust me. And it was incredible!)
The thing about serving in public office is that it’s PUBLIC. As in, when you disagree with a position that the President of your own party takes or believe that it doesn’t represent you constituents’ interest, you, uh, say something. In public. So that the people who voted for you know you are standing up for them and not simply capitulating to the President.
Except that Cornyn spent the last four years not doing that. Why? Because he saw what Trump did to the likes of those who did speak out in opposition to him and his policies. Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake became a huge Trump target after he said that the billionaire businessman did not represent any recognizable version of conservatism. Rep. Justin Amash was forced out of the GOP after he voiced support for the impeachment of Trump. Just over the weekend, Trump called Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse an “embarrassment” because Sasse publicly criticized him.
Cornyn wanted to stay out of Trump’s bad graces. So, he – ahem – voiced his concerns about the President’s agenda in private. Except now Texas is badly souring on the President and Cornyn needs independents to vote for him in order to win. And those independents don’t want a senator who served as, effectively, a “yes man” to the President.
So suddenly, Cornyn is making sure people know he totally stood up to Trump when he disagreed. In private.
And you can’t prove otherwise!