For your Friday evening viewing pleasure, the third major speech he’s delivered in the last few months demanding more leadership from his colleagues. The first, in early November, was a general indictment of Senate dysfunction. The second, which came just last week, was a plea for clarity in the war on radical Islam, especially from Obama. This one is a hard knock on both parties for cowering as the executive branch gobbles up more and more of Congress’s prerogatives. And the hook, as any media-savvy pol nowadays would insist on, is Trump. That comes right at the beginning (transcript here); interestingly, Sasse ends by applauding the example of two prior Senate majorities, both Democratic. I’m already looking forward to the inevitable Sasse vs. Mike Lee presidential primary showdown in 2020. Constitutionalism for the win.
Speaking of Trump, here’s a thought I had this morning after I finished dry heaving over his comments about Putin: Why doesn’t Putin invite him to the Kremlin for a photo op? There’s nothing Tsar Vlad enjoys more than trolling America — remember this op-ed after he rescued Obama from his “red line” fiasco in Syria? — and few stunts would antagonize O more while dividing Republicans more bitterly than lending Trump a little world-leader gravitas at a summit. For extra pissiness, he could call it a “reset.” Two alpha males together, ready to broker peace in our time if the American electorate cooperates. I wonder if Trump would go for it. I’d say the odds are at least one in three; his ego would thrill to a stroking from one of the two or three most powerful men in the world. The only thing restraining him would be the potential damage to his campaign once his aides pulled him aside and calmly explained that Putin’s popularity in Russia hasn’t carried over to the U.S., especially among hawkish Republicans. A few months ago, Pew measured U.S. confidence in Putin at 21/75; a Gallup poll taken earlier this year put Russia’s favorability at 24/70 and a poll taken last year found Putin’s personal favorability at 19/63. There are lots of Putin fans in Trump’s own base judging from social media today but he’s not going to win the nomination pulling 25-30 percent in primaries. He needs to grow his support. A photo with the tsar won’t help.