Hey fellows, where’d everybody go?
One would think that if you’re a Republican senator, you’d be happily churning out Tweets to celebrate your standard bearers’ triumphant victory in the first Presidential debate. Why you’d be trumpeting Trump using the customary FULL CAPS LOCK. Unless, of course, #ProudBoys trending isn’t quite what the consultants ordered for winning over “suburban housewives.”
Funny thing. None of the senators in contested states--not a one--has shared a single word of happy talk on Twitter about Donald Trump’s performance as of 2:00 EDT today. If you didn’t know better, you’d think former Vice President Joe Biden had won the debate by the 60-to-28 percent margin CNN was reporting.
How could such as oversight occur in a legislative body that has dedicated itself to abandoning oversight?
The Republican senators must have been tied up and didn’t get to view the proceedings. Maybe they were all in a caucus to determine if it were possible to confirm Amy Coney Barrett in time for Halloween.
Oh well. Here are the early results as to what Republican senators didn’t have to say about the Loser-In-Chief who has turned their vulnerable colleagues into beasts of burden:
Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell: Nada
Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina: Nada
Senator Thom Tillis, North Carolina: Nada
Senator Cory Gardner, Colorado: Nada
Senator Susan Collins, Maine: Nada
Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa: Nada
Senator Steve Daines, Montana: Nada
Senator Kelly Loeffler, Georgia: Nada
Senator Martha McSally, Arizona: Nada
All but Gardner and Collins are in red states that Trump carried in 2016, in some cases overwhelmingly. Wouldn’t you think at least one of them would have invoked the President’s debate performance if it hadn’t run off the rails.
It’s not as surprising that Democrats are keeping their heads down in pro-Trump states, as tweaking Trump isn’t all that productive where he has popularity.
In bluer Colorado, however, Gardner’s senate challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, had this to say today as a debate follow-up: “This isn't a trick question. White supremacy is despicable and should be condemned by everyone.”
Lots of other prominent and usually chatty Republican senators also laid low. Some of the big names who haven’t found their voices about the debate include:
Senator Ted Cruz, Texas: Nada
Senator Marco Rubio, Florida: Nada
Senator Roy Blunt, Missouri: Nada
Senator Josh Hawley, Missouri: Nada
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska: Nada
You get the point. Just imagine if Trump had triumphed, or even held his own in the debate. Do you really think all these Republican senators would not have weighed in?
There was no shortage of Democratic senators happy to offer post-debate analysis:
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: Donald Trump’s debate performance was—in the words of Macbeth—a "tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." He insulted Biden’s deceased son, smeared his living one, pleased white supremacists, cast doubt on our elections. Americans won't stand for it.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota: “Did Trump just say that the Supreme Court would look at all the ballots cast in the Presidential? Trump is literally discrediting our election system in front of the American people. This is what dictators do. He knows no limits. He knows he can’t win if everyone vote
Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania: The President of the United States is trying to undermine faith in our electoral system. Let that sink in.
Senator Mark Warner, Virginia: The President of the United States’ refusal to denounce white supremacists launches us into a dangerous place.
This list goes on.
In fairness, there was one Republican senator bold enough to comment on the debate in real time, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. His two Tweets didn’t suggest that Trump was winning, but the vaunted civil-rights leader (??) did beam this down from whatever planet he was occupying during the debate:
“Is this the part where Joe Biden apologizes for locking up a generation of black people because of the laws he helped pass?
Actually, no it wasn’t, senator. But thanks for watching the debate. It doesn’t appear that any of your Republican colleagues could bear to do the same.
Ray Hartmann is a columnist for The Riverfront Times, the St. Louis alternative newsweekly he founded in 1977 at the age of 24. He has been a panelist for 33 years on Donnybrook, a political discussion show on the local PBS affiliate in St. Louis and hosts a two-hour nightly radio show.