GOP senator on Trump: 'We knew what we were getting'

"When it comes to the president's behavior and style, we knew what we were getting here," one GOP senator said. I call this "The Snake" argument.
Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, Dec. 3, 2015.Susan Walsh / AP
Get the Msnbc newsletter.
SUBSCRIBE
By Steve Benen

During a break from the Senate's presidential impeachment trial, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) yesterday offered a defense of Donald Trump I haven't heard from other senators.

"I've been a Trump supporter for the agenda," Braun, who was elected in 2018, told NBC News. "I've come here to work on health care, I was one of the first guys to join the Climate Caucus. I think it's a big deal."

"When it comes to the president's behavior and style, we knew what we were getting here," he added, saying Trump was elected to shake up the establishment.

It's a curious perspective. Confronted with evidence of brazen presidential abuses, in which Trump stands accused of executing an illegal extortion scheme, the Indiana Republican has effectively decided to shrug his shoulders.

It's a line of thought I like to call "The Snake" argument.

If you never saw a Trump stump speech before the election, you may not appreciate just how much the Republican enjoys reading -- indeed, performing -- Al Wilson's "The Snake" parable.

As regular readers may recall, the story is simple: a "tender woman" rescues a "vicious snake," who repays her generosity by biting her. When the dying woman asks why, the snake explains with a grin, "Oh shut up, silly woman. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."

As the Washington Examiner noted a while back, "During the campaign, Trump regularly recited the poem as a cautionary tale against allowing Syrian refugees to take advantage of American generosity." And while that certainly explains the president's fascination with the parable, it's hard not to notice the parallels between the ballad and Trump's own presidency.

Indeed, as the Senate weighs whether to convict Trump and remove him from office, some have been reduced to evaluating the president through the soft bigotry of low expectations: he may be corruptly abusing the powers of his office, but for some, that's largely unsurprising.

It's hard not to wonder whether Trump is tempted to declare with pride, in response to his many scandals, "Oh shut up, silly country. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."

MORE: Today's Maddowblog