Why Won't Anyone Compromise Anymore, GOP Sen. Roy Blunt Whines On Way Out Door
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) announced on Monday that he won't seek reelection in 2022, and explained that part of the reason he's noping out is that the Senate has just gotten so darn partisan and uncivil in recent years, telling reporters, "I think the country, in the last decade or so, has sort of fallen off the edge with too many politicians saying, 'If you vote for me, I'll never compromise on anything,'" as a very sympathetic Washington Postcolumn by James Hohmann recounts. Blunt was very very upset by the final weeks of Donald Trump's term, and according to Hohmann, was
struggling to find his own compromise, between conscience and party, between speaking his mind and seeking to get something done. He called then-President Donald Trump's behavior on Jan. 6 "clearly reckless" and expressed disappointment that Trump would skip the swearing-in of his successor. Yet he voted against convicting Trump in the impeachment trial, arguing implausibly that "the president touched the hot stove … and is unlikely to touch it again."
Once again, we'd like to remind you this was in a profile of retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, not Susan Collins.
As an example of the O Where Have Comity And Decency Gone Alas genre, the column is pretty much what you'd expect. Hohmann points to examples of Blunt working together with Democrats to get important work done, like when he and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) "[expanded] community mental health and addiction services," or how Blunt and Amy Klobuchar co-wrote Congress's revamped sexual harassment rules and scrounged more money to help states run elections during the pandemic. Blunt is of course personally liked even by political rivals, because he's a guy who cares about governance, even if they disagree with him.
Oh, but the great personal conflict Blunt faced in the Trump era, where he occasionally disagreed with some things Mad King Donald wanted, albeit not enough to say it very loudly, or to actually vote against Trump's wishes — Blunt voted with Trump 90 percent of the time, and voted to acquit the Great Man in both of his impeachment trials. But Blunt and other senators from the "governing wing" of the GOP feel so bad about how things have devolved! That's why they're very sadly not running again in 2022, because they just no longer recognize what has become of
their party everyone else.
Which makes for a fairly nice column, particularly when you consider several of the retiring Rs will almost certainly be replaced by far worse people. That includes Roy Blunt; Hohmann says Missouri Republican elders thought Blunt could probably survive a primary challenge from former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. With Blunt's announced retirement, Greitens appears to be the front-runner, although he resigned in 2018 after being accused of sexually assaulting his hairdresser and taking nude photos of her to blackmail her with. Worse, in the eyes of prosecutors, he was accused of misusing a campaign database, which is all he was ultimately charged with. Now, with all charges dropped, Greitens is moral enough to run for Senate as a Republican, and he's already been attacking Blunt for saying unkind things about the Dear Leader. Greitens, who still supports Trump's Big Lie that the election was stolen, appeared on Steve Bannon's podcast to say good riddance to Blunt, who he said "threw his lot in with Mitch McConnell."
Once more, look at how far the Grand Old Party has fallen.
That narrative is a bit easier to sell if you also don't mention, as Hohmann does not, Blount's own splashing around in the toxic sludge wading pool that the Republican Party became well before Trump. In 2010, for instance, Blunt was just about as loud as other Republicans in complaining about the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" that nobody cares about anymore. Blunt's campaign posted an online ad showing the smoking wreckage of the World Trade Center, along with audio of his opponent, Robin Carnahan, saying it wasn't any of a Missourian's business telling New York what it should do about a proposed Muslim community center a few blocks from the disaster site.
But then the campaign quickly removed the ad, which we suppose makes Blunt a first-class guy who upholds the Norms and Standards. The revised ad kept the audio, but paired it with a different photo, showing Carnahan and Barack Obama. See, far less inflammatory, simply hinting she palled around with Muslim presidents who may or may not have danced in the streets on 9/11. That's how civility works.
Blunt displayed similar courage in his comments on Trump and his behavior. As Trump's first impeachment trial got rolling, Blunt wasn't quite sure what to make of a GAO report finding that Trump's withholding military aid to Ukraine was illegal, because he had "no context of how many GAO reports over the last 20 years might have reached similar conclusion that the law was violated," and maybe the GAO just accuses presidents of breaking the law all the time! In February of last year, Blunt was very very glad that Donald Trump did such a great job of firing Alexander Vindman for revealing Trump's Ukraine blackmail, explaining that he too would have fired Vindman for going public with a "policy" disagreement with the president, merely because it happened to involve a little abuse of executive power.
In conclusion, it sure is sad that the Senate is losing such fine Republican gentlemen, but only because the likely replacements are going to be monsters.
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