“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
– Job, circa 6th Century B.C.E., referring to the Almighty
– Republicans, Saturday, referring to Donald Trump
By dispatching his violent cultists to the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, President Donald Trump could have gotten U.S. Sen Bill Cassidy killed. It wouldn’t be farfetched for Cassidy to believe that a mob that killed police in its pursuit of Vice President Mike Pence would have killed him or any U.S. lawmaker it found.
It appears Cassidy doesn’t like having his life threatened, doesn’t like having to vacate the Senate Chamber and hide as a mob hunts for blood.
Thus, at the end of Trump’s second impeachment trial Saturday, when it came time to acquit or hold accountable the man who put his life in jeopardy, Cassidy’s vote to convict revealed that his support of Trump is not unconditional. It stops just short of his having to run from Trump’s malevolent band of MAGA murderers. Cassidy’s vote got him summarily canceled by the Republican Party of Louisiana who we can assume will demand that all future candidates pledge to love Trump even when his actions imperil their own lives.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person,” Cassidy said Saturday after his vote. “I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.”
The state party, in its statement, wrote, “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the vote today by Sen. Cassidy to convict former President Trump. Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and President Trump has been acquitted of the impeachment charge filed against him.”
Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty. pic.twitter.com/ute0xPc4BH
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) February 13, 2021
Soon after that statement, the state party released another announcing that its executive committee had unanimously voted to censure Cassidy.
When the U.S. House impeached Trump during a week before the end of his term, Sen. Mitch McConnell, then the Senate majority leader, loosened his iron grip on his caucus and granted them permission to vote their consciences.
Cassidy (along with six other Republicans in the Senate) did just that, and now he’s a pariah among Louisiana Republicans.
As angry as state Republicans are, unless they’re abjectly foolish, they won’t demand Cassidy’s resignation. Democrat John Bel Edwards would replace Cassidy with a member of his own party if Cassidy’s seat became open, which means that, as Shakespeare might say, all the Republicans’ sound and fury signify nothing.
There are some people calling Cassidy’s vote courageous, but it’s not particularly courageous to vote to convict somebody who nearly got you killed at the office. It only looks courageous against the backdrop of his pusillanimous Republican colleagues.
Sen. John Kennedy, who’d apparently rather drink weed killer than tell the truth about any of Trump’s egregious and disqualifying offenses and who, even after the mob attack, kept the lie going that Trump had legitimate concerns about election fraud, claimed Saturday that the House Democrats who presented evidence against Trump had a weak case. And, despite ample evidence to the contrary, Kennedy said impeaching a public official who is no longer in office was unconstitutional.
So, yes, compared to Kennedy, Cassidy appears bold and daring. Most people do. But even his relative courageousness is mitigated by the fact that Cassidy won’t be up for re-election before 2026, and Kennedy will be up for re-election next year.
His distant re-election date is likely the reason it took Cassidy only 17 days after the presidential election was called for Joe Biden to acknowledge that Biden had won.
Real courage would have been never standing with Trump at all, or at least breaking from him after the Access Hollywood footage or his slander of John McCain or his policy of separating asylum-seekers from their babies or the Muslim ban or his praise of white nationalists or the first impeachment or his reported indifference to report of bounties placed on the heads of U.S. soldiers or the first, second, third, fourth or 97th time he undermined faith in our elections with baseless (and often racist) allegations of fraud.
For all his talk about Trump’s obvious guilt and the supremacy of the Constitution, we’ve got every reason to doubt that Cassidy would have voted to convict Trump if he were facing voters next year. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only Republican who voted to convict Trump who is. She told Politico, “I cannot allow the significance of my vote to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions.”
But most of the party still behave as cultists who try to shame all dissenters — even those whose dissent is based on the basic desire to not be almost killed by the leader.