Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer on Tuesday reversed her call for Donald Trump to resign from the GOP ticket, telling a local radio station that it’s “not a tough choice” to back him just three days after she urged him to quit.
“I plan to vote for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence on November 8,” she said on Nebraska’s KLIN. “I put out a statement … with regard to Mr. Trump’s comments. I felt they were disgusting. I felt they were unacceptable and I never said I was not voting for our Republican ticket.”
Well. that last part is not true. She had said that it would be wise for Trump “to step aside and allow Mike Pence to serve as our party’s nominee.”
This is not the first time Fischer has dissembled or showed lacked of spine. In May, we wrote:
Sen. Deb Fischer’s nephew, a GOP consultant in Nebraska, set out to threaten Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), albeit not by name, for daring — the horror! — to resist Trump and speak openly about a third party. Word got out early Saturday that Sam Fischer was planning on introducing a resolution plainly aimed at Sasse at Saturday’s state convention threatening to pull support from Republicans who oppose Trump or advocate a third party. The senior senator, largely unknown outside her state and responsible for no significant legislation, denied knowing about her nephew’s actions in advance but surely could have stopped them from going forward. The resolution passed and will be a blight on the senior senator’s record, the sort of uncollegiality that made Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) a pariah with his peers and reminiscent of the thought-police tactics conservatives despise on college campuses. (Sen. Fischer seemed unmoved by Sasse’s many gracious remarks directed her way during his remarks.)
Fischer is emblematic of the finger-in-the-wind Republicans whose sole concern seems to be ensuring that they stay in power. What principle is she defending, what values is she espousing in her Trump flip-flopping? He is either fit for the presidency or not; either he has disqualified himself a dozen times over or he has not. Fischer is earning the contempt of Trumpkins and #NeverTrump advocates alike.
Moreover, with new allegations concerning Trump’s physical abuse of women, Fischer will face pressure once again to dump Trump. At this point, it is not clear whether — like the vile Jerry Falwell Jr. — she would support him even if he had a proven record of sexual assault. Pundits have observed that she has bad “timing” in climbing back onto the Trump train just before it jumped the track. That’s wrong. She has bad character. It was evident what sort of moral monster Trump was well before the batch of women accusing Trump of preying on them surfaced. Fischer chose to look the other way.
The contrast to Sasse, who early on staked out a principled stance against Trump at a time few Republicans were willing to do so, is vivid. Sasse understands that Trump is a moral toxic waste dump whose positions, to the extent he has them, are contrary to Republican ideals (limited government, strong international leadership) and to American values (the rule of law, tolerance, empathy). In his open letter posted on Facebook back in May, Sasse laid out his priorities:
A national security strategy for the age of cyber and jihad;
Honest budgeting/entitlement reform so that we stop stealing from future generations;
Empowering states and local governments to improve K-12 education, and letting Washington figure out how to update federal programs to adjust to now needing lifelong learners in an age where folks are obviously not going to work at a single job for a lifetime anymore; and
Retiring career politicians by ending all the incumbency protections, special rules, and revolving door opportunities for folks who should be public “servants,” not masters.
Both in defining his own agenda and opposing Trump’s, we know what Sasse believes, and we can see that it has the potential to attract a diverse array of Americans. Fischer was willing to acknowledge Trump’s unfitness, until she felt some heat. Now we don’t know what she stands for or what American values she wishes to support.
Surely, Nebraska and the United States can do better than Deb Fischer. So can the center-right. After the election, the GOP will either be the party of Trump and his quislings or the party of Sasse and similarly earnest leaders. If it’s the former, the center-right will need a new party. It will look to people such as Sasse, Evan McMullin, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.