Back when he was running for election to the Senate in 2016, Steve Daines liked to tell Montana voters that he was running for the Senate to check the abuse of power coming from the Obama Administration. That was solid red meat Republican rhetoric then and today, because a certain percentage of Montana Republicans just couldn’t stomach the idea that an intelligent person of color was leading our nation and the idea that he was bent on tyranny fed their base desires.
The facts, of course, didn’t bear out these paranoid conservative fantasies. Obama didn’t come for anyone’s guns and his use of executive orders was measured and judicious compared with both of his predecessors and the pace being set by his successor. Far from becoming a tyrant, Obama worked to build consensus even when faced with an opposition party that was more interested in destroying his presidency than in helping the nation.
And now we come to how Senator Daines is responding to someone who actually seems to think the President can do whatever he wants, with no regard for the law, the traditions of our government, or even the Constitution. No doubt feeling the heat of the Mueller investigation as more and more Trump allies find themselves under suspicion and arrest, the mad King floated a trial balloon this week to see if his supporters would swallow the unconstitutional absurdity that a sitting President could end an investigation into his crimes by pardoning himself.
Igor Bobic, a reporter for HuffPost, asked the Senator if he thought the President could pardon himself and received this set of answers:
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) June 5, 2018
Talk about a profile in courage. Daines, who had no trouble railing against President Obama and accusing him of violating the Constitution at every turn, feigned ignorance to avoid answering a question whose answer should be self-evident to anyone who believes in checks and balances and the separation of powers: no, you simpering dolt, the President cannot pardon himself and it doesn’t “depend on the issue.”
And one more thing, Senator Daines. You’re not an engineer; you’re a United States Senator. Do your job and defend the legislative and judicial branches from the abuses of a man you and I and everyone else knows isn’t fit to be President.
When the history of this era is written, the central villain will certainly be Donald Trump, but historians simply won’t be able to overlook those who enabled Trump’s rise and abetted his destruction of the norms of government that have kept our republic functioning for over two hundred years. If members of the President’s party like Daines are truly more interested in imposing their moral vision and impoverishing this country through devastating tax cuts than in serving the republic, we’ve reached a dark place.
It would appear we have, and it means the Republican Party is even more lost than it seemed to be before.