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Shoveling Sh*t for Donald Trump, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue Get Covered In It

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Posted on : January 17, 2018

I dont recall is the two-foot putt of politicsa gimme. No ones going to hassle you over it. It could be total bullshit and everybody knows its total bullshit, but if you say I cant recall, nobody can really challenge it, so you get away with it, and sooner or later, usually sooner, the world moves on to other matters.

So GOP senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue could easily have left it at that. They didnt recall President Trump saying shithole, which was their original position last week. The country would have rolled its collective eyes but granted them their gimme. But on Sunday, they decided the Republican Party hasnt done enough sucking up to and lying for Donald Trump, so they went on the attack. Now, they said, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin was lying. Trump never said shithole. Perhaps shithouse. Ah, well thats different! As the Times put it, their recollections appeared to have sharpened.

I suspect that what actually sharpened were two things. First, their knowledge that they have this big immigration bill they sponsored together, called the RAISE Act, that would cut legal immigration roughly in half over 10 years, that they want Trump to sign. And second, their realization that theyre dealing with a man so fragile and vain that if they want him to stay interested in their bill, theyd better lie for him, because lying is what Trump demands.

The bill, as the Beasts Jackie Kucinich and Andrew Desiderio reported last August when it was dropped, has almost no hope of passage. As they pointed out, it would need to clear the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, which isnt happening. All Democrats will likely oppose it. Even a handful of Senate Republicans are likely to be against it. Lindsey Graham came out against it immediately, and others made unsupportive noises.

But the bill is only part of the story. The other and more important partmaybe not more important to Cotton and Perdue, but certainly more important to the republicis the way Trump keeps going lower and lower and lower, and the way Republican elected officials keep shoveling out his path for him.

No serious person can possibly think in all honesty Trump didnt say the word. First of all, Trump was reportedly bragging about it to friends that night. Second, How likely would Durbin be to tell an outright lie about words spoken by the President of the United States? No matter how much he may dislike a president, a senator just doesnt do that. (Or, at least they didnt. What Cotton and Perdue are doing now is how confidence in offices and institutions gets depleted.) There were a lot of senators who disliked Barack Obama too, but no one ever came out of a White House meeting about rural policy charging that Obama made a remark about shithole states.

Thats mainly because Obama was too dignified ever to use that kind of language while conducting the peoples business, but its also because you just dont tell lies about what presidents said. Lindsey Graham backed up Durbin last week, without exactly going as far as Durbin did. And just Monday, Graham restated his position, phrased as a sly little dig at Cotton and Perdue: My memory hasnt evolved, he told a South Carolina newspaper. He added: Its pretty embarrassing when you have to take your children out of the room just to report the news. I think we all know what he means.

Cotton and Perdue have relationships with Trump that are different, although at crunch time the differences dont appear to be amounting to anything. Cotton, of course, is one of the biggest war hawks in Washington, who once said that a successful bombing campaign against Iran would take only several days. Aside from the hard line on Iran, he disagrees with Trump on a lot of things: Hes pro-NATO, pro-free trade, pro-Nafta, and was pro-Iraq war. Trumps against all those things.

But he endorsed Trump anyway in May 2016, the same day John McCain did. When asked two months later by Atlantic editor Jeff Goldberg at the Aspen Ideas Festival (yes, Cotton is the kind of Republican who gets invited to the Aspen Ideas Festival) to square his worldview with his endorsement, Cotton of course was able to rationalize it. Trumps views, Cotton said, arent as radical as they seem. And where President Trump seemed to be going off the rails, why, the Republicans in Congress would keep him in check, dont you know. If Donald Trump is elected president, I will support him when he is right and well try to change [his] direction when he is wrong, Cotton told Goldberg.

Perdue, who is not the kind of Republican who gets invited to the Aspen Ideas Festival, was a businessman before winning his Senate seat. His great claim to fame was running the Dollar Store and supplying America with thousands of jobs that pay about $17,000 a year. He has been cozier with Trump from the start. After Perdue won, Trump summoned him to Fifth Avenue and peppered him with questions about what it was like to run as a businessman-outsider. Perdue is now, by some accounts, Trumps favorite senator. And hes obviously determined to keep things that way.

Trumps remark was an important symbolic low-point of his presidency. It resonated around the world. The outrages are so numerous that we cant always know which ones will make the history books. We can be certain that this one will. A moment of national humiliation and disgrace.

Cotton and Perdue have chosen to go out of their way to align themselves with this humiliation. Their colleague Jeff Flake is giving a speech Wednesday comparing Trump to Stalin. Cotton and Perdue might well ask themselves what that makes them.

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