Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., co-sponsors of a bill to cut legal immigration in half, could not remember (!) hearing President Donald Trump refer to African countries as “s---holes.” (Would not such language have stuck in their memories, or was the phrase so unexceptional as not to warrant notice?)
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wouldn’t publicly confirm the remarks, although he shared them with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called the remarks “unfortunate” — as if they were a hangnail.
Not every Republican behaved so shabbily. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, put out a written statement. “The President’(s) comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values,” she said. “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with.”
She continued: “They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream.” She concluded: “The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
One wonders what she thinks of her cowardly Republican colleagues and what that must tell her about their values.
The president will not apologize, so the House and Senate should act. Love would do the country and her party a world of good by introducing a measure of censure. This would be a united statement of condemnation, which obviously would not preclude stronger action on other topics later. But the president’s shameful comments followed by a weak, fuzzy denial should not be the final word.
Censure would be a historically apt punishment since it was last used against President Andrew Jackson in 1834 (although many Democrats considered that option in the case of President Bill Clinton). Both the House and Senate could use Love’s remarks as a starting point.
The Senate website recalls:
“The Senate demanded that the president turn over a document. The president - in the second year of his second term - refused. In an unprecedented and never-repeated tactic, the Senate then censured the president on March 28, 1834.
“Two years earlier, President Andrew Jackson ... had vetoed an act to re-charter the Bank of the United States. That veto became a major issue in his 1832 re-election campaign, as he decisively defeated Sen. Henry Clay. After the election, Jackson moved to withdraw federal deposits from that bank.”
The man whom Trump cites as his ideological twin didn’t think much of Congress, either. But then, at least, the Senate had the nerve to act.
Republicans should welcome such a move, for it would give them the opportunity to rebuke the president with no legal consequences. It would be a statement that the Congress, and the GOP specifically, still has a moral pulse and that racism is not the new normal for the Grand Old Party.
Don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, for her eloquent, lonely statement in a sea of moral cowardice, we can say, well done, Congresswoman Love.