Donald Trump has been MIA for a couple of weeks, and a few sane Republicans are finally growing backbones. After constantly playing defense against the MAGA crowd, have they finally learned that appeasement gets you nowhere in a cult that demands absolute fealty, and that the best defense is a good offense?
Let’s start with the ultimate baller: Liz Cheney. During a Republican conference meeting that was partially about her blistering criticism of Donald Trump, she flatly told her colleagues, “I won’t apologize for the [impeachment] vote.” And when some of her fellow Republicans threatened to oust her from her leadership role over it, Cheney confidently called their bluff, saying she wanted a vote. She easily survived the closed-door vote (thanks, in part, to a secret ballot), 145-61.
Next, consider Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, who is about to be censured again by the Nebraska Republican Party State Central Committee for showing insufficient loyalty to Trump. “You are welcome to censure me again,” Sasse taunted in a video this week, before adding: “But let’s be clear about why this is happening: It’s because I still believe—as you used to—that politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude.” Sasse also pointed out that if a Democratic president had “riled a mob that attacked the Capitol,” “we both know how you’d respond.” While I haven’t always admired Sasse’s handling of the Trump presidency, Sasse’s video was, as Republican strategist Mike Madrid told Politico, a “cold glass of water in people’s face, saying ‘the fever’s breaking.’”