Washington Post overdoes the gloating

The Washington Post is pleased as punch that the Senate passed a resolution to overturn President Trump’s national emergency declaration. It gloats (via a headline in the paper edition) that, for Trump, “making it about himself didn’t click with GOP Senators.”

According to the Post, Trump’s lobbying effort against the resolution treated the vote “almost exclusively in personal terms.” No surprise there. That’s how Trump treats most things.

But the Post goes further to say that this approach “didn’t click with GOP Senators.” What of this claim?

The most one can fairly say is that it didn’t click with 12 GOP Senators. And it’s far from clear that a different approach would have clicked with many (if any) of the 12.

Senators like Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Mitt Romney were very likely to vote for the resolution regardless of what Trump said to them. Were other Senators persuadable? The Post presents no evidence to this effect.

The one Senator the Post identifies as asking for, but not getting, a legal memorandum on the constitutionality of the emergency declaration is Ted Cruz. But Cruz voted with the president. So did Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse, the two Senators who joined Cruz in unsuccessfully seeking a compromise.

The Post ignores the Senators who might have been expected to vote for the resolution but ended up siding with Trump. At a minimum, I would put Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, and Sasse in that category.

These Senators all face the possibility of being challenged from the right in primaries next year. According to the Post, the White House made it clear that “Trump was noticing those who chose to oppose him — particularly if they were up for reelection in 2020.”

This approach may have “clicked” with a few Senators.

The votes of “swing” Senators like Gardner, Tillis, and Sasse prevented the resolution from gaining the support of 60 Senators. Now, Trump need not worry about having his veto overridden.

Trump lost the vote yesterday, but the Post provides no basis for its claim that his lobbying effort was sub-optimal. Its gloating is overdone.

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