South Dakota Searchlight has gotten South Dakota’s Congress critters to all criticize Donald Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution. But they all do so without saying Trump’s name. Let’s start with Senator John Thune:
“Of course I disagree with that,” Thune said of Trump’s comments. “I swear an oath to uphold the Constitution and it is a bedrock principle — it is the principle, the bedrock of our country. So I couldn’t disagree more” [Seth Tupper, “Rounds Criticizes Trump’s Call for ‘Termination’ of the Constitution,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2022.12.05].
Thune framed his assessment of Trump’s invalidation of his oath to defend the Constitution in terms of campaign baseball rather than direct moral and political condemnation:
“If you’re one of these other people who’s interested [in] running this year, this is certainly an opportunity to create some contrast,” said Thune, noting that Trump is the only declared Republican candidate for president at this point in the election cycle.
Thune said he was mystified why Trump would make such an outlandish statement in response to a report about Twitter employees’ discussions about how to handle media coverage of emails recovered from Hunter Biden’s stolen laptop.
“I don’t understand what the theory might [be] behind this particular campaign strategy, but he’s going to say what he’s going to say. I don’t think anybody’s going to control that, but I do think if you’re one of the other candidates, this is a golden opportunity,” he said [Alexander Bolton, “Thune: Trump Call to Terminate Constitution a ‘Golden Opportunity’ for 2024 Rivals,” The Hill, 2022.12.05].
Representative Dusty Johnson wrote this response to Searchlight:
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Johnson said. “That’s the oath I took when I was sworn in as South Dakota’s sole member to the U.S. House. I will always uphold our Constitution. Calls to ‘terminate’ it are beyond the pale” [Tupper, 2022.12.05].
“Beyond the pale”—so that means disqualifying from public office, right, Dusty? That means you’ll vote for someone else for President in both the 2024 primary and, if necessary, the 2024 general, right?
Senator Marion Michael Rounds offers the longest response, posted in full on Twitter:
Americans have a deep appreciation for the Constitution and out Founding Fathers who risked their lives to establish it.
As elected officials, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. We should never dishonor that oath. No one is above the Constitution.
As I’ve said before, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that would alter the results of the 2020 election.
Anyone who desires to lead our country must commit to protecting the Constitution. They should not threaten to terminate it.
In South Dakota, Mount Rushmore serves as an enduring reminder of that commitment and the stability of our Constitution has provided for over 200 years.
Despite their imperfections, our Founding Fathers crafted a Constitution that has stood the test of time and sets America apart from the rest of the world. We continue to strive for a more perfect union.
I believe Americans want leaders, like those on Mount Rushmore, who will defend the Constitution and unite us in our belief that America is truly a shining city upon a hill [Sen. M. Michael Rounds, tweet, 2022.12.05].
Rounds rambles a bit, showing he’s not worried about conciseness. So why cut any direct reference to Trump? I mean, it’s as if we learned that Republican Senate candidate Joel Koskan raped his daughter for years and we issued press releases saying, “As parents, we promise to support and protect our children. We should never dishonor that promise. None of us should rape our children. Anyone who desires to be a parent must commit to protecting children. They should not threaten to abuse children. The men on Mount Rushmore had their imperfections, but they were all good dads, the kind of dads I believe Americans want.” Why not skip all that obvious fluff and cut to the chase: “Joel Koskan committed a horrible crime and should spend time in prison and register as a sex offender.”
Why not reword your second paragraph, Senator Rounds, to address the malfeasance and the malefactor directly:
Like all of us elected officials, Donald Trump took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. With his words this weekend, Donald Trump violated that oath. Donald Trump is not above the Constitution. I thus cannot vote for him again. Our party should not nominate him, and voters should not elect him.
While I find our Congressional delegation’s incapacity for direct speech maddening, I do appreciate Rounds’s subtle tweakage of Trump’s fantasies of memorialization on Mount Rushmore and any likening of Trump to Ronald Reagan. But watch out: Rounds’s invocation of the shining city upon a hill” could be code for pushing to add Reagan to Mount Rushmore or some nearby stable granite.
But let’s not let Rounds’s Rushmore ramble distract us from what he and Dusty and John are not saying and what should be said: Donald Trump has declared that his false belief that the 2020 election was stolen justifies terminating the Constitution. Trump has said that his claim to power, based on a persistent lie, is more important than the Constitution. Trump’s own words show he does not take seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution. Trump has thus disqualified himself from public office.
Come on, Mike, John, and Dusty: Cheney up.