In the last year and a half, Sasse has made a career branding himself as “the last honest man in the GOP,” which is journalism code for someone who makes a lot of hay about Trump’s character while inventing Principled Conservative reasons for gleefully implementing the worst parts of the administration’s agenda. Were President Trump to consider governing like Trump the candidate and propose, say, a single-payer health-care program to be financed by higher taxes on the wealthy, Sasse would dust off his Madison quotes and fire off a few tweets about the erosion of our democratic heritage. Because Trump is actually just governing like a non-tweed-wearing version of Sasse himself, right down to his bombing of Syria, Sasse is allowed to continue his world-weary posturing. But really he is just a glorified tone-policer. Don’t believe me? Try to find a single criticism of the president from Sasse that is substantive rather than stylistic (appropriately cautious-sounding procedural hang-ups about the nonsense Flynn scandal don’t count).
For now, of course, Sasse is praised, described as “thoughtful” and “intellectually curious,” fawned over in the pages of Mother Jones and Politco. But where does he think this is going to get him? Does he really believe that if the shoe were on the other foot his pseudo-intellectual version of outsider conservatism would win over union voters in Michigan, that the wearers of pink hats would not have the long knives out for the misogynist President Sasse?