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Remember those bold pronouncements from U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis about standing up to an abuse of power by President Trump?
He takes them back.
Didn’t mean them.
Upon further review, fuggedaboutit.
So now the North Carolina Republican wants a mulligan on that compelling op-ed that he wrote for The Washington Post (and reprinted in the Journal) about being principled — and not being a hypocrite.
Even though he supported Trump’s border wall, Tillis wrote way back then — in February — he couldn’t in good conscience go along with Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get more funding for the wall than Congress was willing to provide. Even though he supports Trump’s wall, Tillis wrote, the president was overstepping his bounds.
And if such a thing is bad when a Democrat does it, Tillis argued, it is just as bad when a Republican does it.
To quote Tillis: “Conservatives rightfully cried foul when President Barack Obama used executive action to completely bypass Congress and unilaterally provide deferred action to undocumented adults who had knowingly violated the nation’s immigration laws. Some prominent Republicans went so far as to proclaim that Obama was acting more like an ‘emperor’ or ‘king’ than a president.”
Tillis added: “There is no intellectual honesty in now turning around and arguing that there’s an imaginary asterisk attached to executive overreach — that it’s acceptable for my party but not thy party.”
What would happen, Tillis said, when Democrats controlled the White House? They could invoke the same powers to pay for initiatives that Republicans oppose.
But that was then. Now Tillis has put a screeching halt to such high-mindedness. After deeper reflection, he said last week, he would not vote in the Senate to rebuke the president for infringing on Congress’ authority (though 12 of his fellow Republicans did in a resolution that passed and was promptly vetoed by Trump).
It was not simply a flip-flop, but a belly flop. Read. His. Lips.
Obviously, pressure from the White House helped to move Tillis from Point A to Z. Tillis also probably was spooked by threats of a primary challenge in 2020. Among possible opponents: Republican Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro.
Even so, as recently as last week, Tillis said he wasn’t bothered by primary threats. He was sticking to his guns. Until he wasn’t.
“The concerns I’ve raised were never about what President Trump is trying to accomplish but rather with setting a precedent that a future Democratic president would exploit to bypass Congress to implement policies well outside the mainstream,” Tillis attempted to explain in a written statement.
Now he says he is satisfied that amending the president’s emergency powers going forward would “prevent a future left-wing president from misusing their authority.” In other words, what is acceptable for “my party” is not acceptable for “thy party” after all.
This episode lends credence to suspicions that in opposing Trump on this issue, Tillis was seeking to tack to the center for the general election in 2020. Until that talk about a primary challenge began to percolate. Then Tillis’ “intellectual honesty” promptly exited the building — right behind his credibility.