GOP senator: Trump, among other things, 'kisses dictators' butts'

For the president's critics on the left, Ben Sasse's criticisms may seem satisfying, but the Nebraskan is an imperfect messenger for this message.
Image: Ben Sasse
Sen. Ben Sasse questions Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the third day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, on Oct. 14, 2020.Greg Nash / Pool via AP

If Donald Trump has some unkind words about Nebraska's junior Republican senator, at least we'll know why.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., launched a blistering attack against President Donald Trump and his leadership this week while speaking to constituents, warning that there would be a "Republican bloodbath" in the Senate if he loses the White House. During a telephone town hall, a constituent asked Sasse about his relationship with the president and why he has to criticize him so much, according to an audio clip that was first obtained by The Washington Examiner and has been posted on YouTube.

Sasse was apparently unrestrained when explaining his concerns about his party's president, lamenting, among things, the way Trump "kisses dictators' butts."

That was just the start. "The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor," the GOP senator added, before noting that Trump "mocks evangelicals behind closed doors, has "treated the presidency like a business opportunity," and has "flirted with white supremacists."

For the president's critics on the left, Sasse's criticisms may seem satisfying, but the Nebraskan is an imperfect messenger for this message.

Indeed, Sasse has periodically clashed with Trump, but in ways that have consistently proven inconsequential. The senator conceded last year, for example, that the president's Ukrainian extortion scheme -- the scandal that ultimately led to Trump's impeachment -- was "terrible," but there was no follow through.

When Trump made an emergency declaration to raid the Pentagon budget for border-wall funds, Sasse initially denounced the move, before failing to follow through.

When Trump publicly urged China to help his re-election campaign by going after Joe Biden, Sasse criticized the presidential move, but there was no follow through.

When Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of an election defeat, Sasse described the president's position as "crazy," but there was no follow through.

When an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration wrote a New York Times op-ed about the president's unfitness for office, the Nebraska Republican said the criticisms of the president in the piece are "similar to what so many of us hear from senior people around the White House, you know, three times a week." But there was no follow through.

Sure, it's nice that Sasse occasionally speaks up in ways the White House doesn't like, but he also votes with Trump more than 86% of the time. The senator's criticisms of the president would carry far more weight if they were backed up with something meaningful.