Last week Donald Trump gave Idaho’s junior senator his full-throated endorsement. Trump tweeted: “Senator Jim Risch of the Great State of Idaho has been an incredible supporter of our Agenda! He is tough on Crime, Strong on Borders, and will continue to fight for our Second Amendment. Jim will never let you down. He has my Full and Complete Endorsement!”
Now we know that, for this president, it’s all about him, not us. So when Trump writes “Jim will never let you down,” that’s Trump-speak for “Jim will never let me down.” Why would Trump think that? Well, perhaps because Jim has proven himself to be a reliable sycophant, a committee chair utterly disinterested in exercising any meaningful oversight of the executive branch.
Recently, Risch was quoted as saying, “What puts you in a bad place with [Trump] is going out publicly and criticizing him, and I don't do that.”
I get it, Jim. You don’t want to upset the big guy. Heaven forbid he might recruit and support a Republican to primary you. But your constituents have a right to know where you stand, and your silence on key issues has been deafening.
Have you told the president you disagree with his withdrawing the U.S. from the TPP?
Or that his tariffs on China are hurting U.S. consumers and farmers?
Or that his acceptance of North Korea launching short range missiles damages our relationships with longtime allies South Korea and Japan?
Or that pulling out of the Iran Nuclear deal, with which Iran was in compliance at the time he withdrew, makes us less safe?
Or that his eagerness to credit Communist dictator Vladimir Putin and discredit U.S. intelligence agencies undermines the dedicated men and women who are doing the hard, and often dangerous, work of gathering the intelligence needed to keep our country safe?
Or that his failure to say a word in support of the courageous Hong Kong protesters fighting to preserve their freedom emboldens Communist China?
Or that his obsequious behavior with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who ordered the torture and murder of a Washington Post journalist, sends the message that U.S. residents are expendable for profit?
Or that his cruel, costly, and completely unnecessary policy of separating parents and children at the southern border, and housing migrant kids in cages, is antithetical to norms of human decency?
Or that his inability to acknowledge as fact the Russian assault on our 2016 election and his unwillingness to take ANY steps to protect the security of our 2020 election from similar assaults actually encourages Russia (and other countries) to repeat and escalate those attacks?
Or that his verbal assaults on NATO and its members and his rhetoric suggesting that the U.S. might not honor its Article 5 commitment to protect allies erodes the confidence of our European allies?
Or that his constant turnover of top military and diplomatic personnel – and the enduring vacancies in many key positions – makes the administration look like a particularly chaotic episode of the Keystone Cops?
Or that his inability to develop, articulate and sustain a coherent foreign policy as to any country or geopolitical region alienates our friends, strengthens our foes, and makes us look weak and indecisive on the world stage?
Maybe Jim has privately discussed some or all of these matters with the president – and maybe he hasn’t. We don’t know which it is because Risch doesn’t – by his own admission – want to find himself “in a bad place with Trump.”
But as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Risch surely has a point of view on all of these issues. If Risch is in lockstep with the president, as Trump asserts in his tweet, Risch should tell us. If Risch disagrees with the president, he should tell us that too.
After all, the good senator wasn’t elected to kowtow to Trump. He was elected to represent the people of Idaho.