Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in Washington on March 12. (Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg News)
Opinion writer

Over time, President Trump’s speeches have become less coherent and his policy impulses more outrageous. It’s gotten so bad, a few Republicans normally in Trump’s apologist crowd are speaking up.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) spoke up to denounce Trump’s “idiotic” assertion that windmills cause cancer. The Des Moines Register reports on a phone call with reporters on Wednesday:

“I’m told that the White House respects my views on a lot of issues,” Grassley said. “(Trump’s) comments on wind energy — not only as a president but when he was a candidate — were, first of all, idiotic, and it didn’t show much respect for Chuck Grassley as the grandfather of the wind energy tax credit.”

He might want to take on his governor, a Trump cultist, who refused to question the president’s indictment of one of her state’s critical industries. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) meekly responded to a question about Trump’s comments. “That’s not my place,” she said. “You know how those things change. One year, coffee’s good for you. The next year, coffee causes cancer.” I’m sure employees and business owners in her state’s wind industry will be surprised to learn it is not Reynolds’s job to defend their livelihood.

One wonders when the two Republican senators from Texas, the largest wind-energy-producing state in the country, will speak up. Maybe the wind turbine technicians there (who exceed the number in every other state, including California) will look for representation in 2020 by energy-literate politicians willing to stand up for their industry.

Now Sen. Ted. Cruz (R-Tex.) did stand up to Trump on another topic. Although Cruz was at Trump’s side at the border hyping the phony emergency during the shutdown, he figured out Trump’s border lunacy has real consequences for his state. The Texas Tribune reports:

“Closing the border to legal commerce would be devastating to Texas,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico, and the federal government shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize those jobs.” …

The Texas Association of Business said Monday that one in five jobs in the state is dependent upon trade and that “no group stands to lose more than Texans in communities” along the border such as El Paso and Laredo. The business group pressed state leaders to speak out — and it was clear by Wednesday evening that some of them had gotten the message.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who is up for reelection in 2020, was more deferential. (“I told him that I understand his frustration, but I also believe shutting down the border would have a lot of unintended consequences. … [I] asked the president to let me work with this administration to come up with more targeted ways to encourage Mexico and Central America to work more cooperatively with us.”)

Next time, the two Texas senators should think twice about enabling Trump’s fear-mongering and out-and-out lies about the border situation.

On one level, Cruz’s complaint is indicative of the hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty that have washed over the Republican Party. He’s smart enough to know there is not an “emergency” at the border that is going to be solved by a wall. (In his more sober moments, he proposed an actual solution, increasing the number of immigration judges to speed up consideration of asylum claims.) He should stop fanning Trump’s incendiary talk (and should have voted against the emergency declaration). However, to the extent he now sees that Trump’s erratic and impulsive pronouncements cause real damage to his constituents, he might consider putting some daylight between himself and Trump.

Democrats should make certain in 2020 not to simply criticize opponents for spinelessness but also for a failure of their fundamental obligations to stick up for their constituents’ economic self-interests. When Trump pushes a plan to make health care more expensive in rural areas or denigrates solar and wind energy or imposes tariffs that harm farmers, voters in a slew of red states should be pushing back hard.

Voters in these states cannot only vote against Trump but against enablers such as Cornyn and his fellow Sens. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), John Cassidy (R-La.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) — all on the ballot in 2020. They’ve either encouraged Trump’s worst impulses or failed to check them when it mattered. What better reason to vote them out?

UPDATE: After stirring up a hornet’s nest over the border closure, Trump retreats and says in effect, “Never mind.Trump told the press, “We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars. . . . And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border.” Anyone think he’ll ever do it? Here’s one more instance where the world sees Trump’s words and threats are meaningless. But gee, think of the harm Republicans might have spared themselves and the country if they had stood up to him on other topics. Maybe they should start doing it regularly.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: Trump is unraveling before our eyes. He isn’t fit for reelection.

Paul Waldman: In 2020, Trump’s conspiracy theorizing will only get worse

George F. Will: How a tractor driver from Iowa can claw back the Senate’s power

The Post’s View: A dozen Republican senators show some spine. It won’t be enough.

Max Boot: The GOP’s declaration of moral bankruptcy