Two Republican senators humiliate themselves to wish Eric Trump a happy birthday
Over the weekend, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent one of the most humiliating tweets I've seen from a public official — which is saying something in the age of President Donald Trump.
Amazingly, the offending tweet is still up:
Eric Trump's birthday is coming up. We're putting together a birthday card for him -- will you add your name? https://t.co/I1az1hNn7Y— Thom Tillis (@Thom Tillis) 1578178747.0
Now, it should be clear what's going on here. The "card" isn't a card — it's a site where Tillis is trying to harvest information to later hit up potential donors to help with his re-election campaign. But the fact that he tried to do it with the pretense of wishing a happy birthday to the president's son — a son who is, let's remember supposedly running his father's business so that it is completely free of inappropriate political influence — is unbelievably humiliating.
But Tillis is running for re-election in 2020, including against GOP rivals in the primary, so the humiliation may be part of the point. By showing you're willing to debase yourself, you reaffirm your commitment to the leader of the party at a significant cost — at least to your dignity. That signals both to the base voters and the president himself that Tillis is on their side.
It may have been a bit too much, though, and it could backfire. The tweet garnered, as of this writing, only a few more than 500 "likes," while it received more than 18,000 replies — the vast majority of which appeared to be ridicule. That's a truly astonishing accomplishment. The backlash got so bad that local paper The Charlotte Observer chimed in:
It’s hardly unforseen that Tillis has declined to utter a peep of protest over Trump vocal willingness to commit war crimes and attack Iranian cultural sites.
But soliciting Americans to sign a birthday card for Donald Trump’s son? Yes, such “cards” are often designed to help build databases of potential friendly voters. But the gesture showed a troubling lack of distance between a U.S. senator and a president, one that surely had some of Tillis’ fellow Republicans wincing, too. It’s also a sign to North Carolinians that as we turn the calendar to 2020, we have a clear choice ahead. Do voters want a U.S. senator who understands that it is sometimes his or her uncomfortable duty to question a president, especially one who so regularly threatens constitutional boundaries and historical norms? Or do we want a senator so consumed with currying favor from Donald Trump that he embarrasses himself and the state he represents?
And it wasn't just Tillis. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), in a post that would have probably gone relatively unnoticed, were it not for Tillis' related blunder, also tweeted a photo from her campaign account awkwardly wishing Eric Trump a happy birthday:
Wishing a happy birthday to a great man who stood with us in our fight for Tennessee Values! Hope it’s a good one,… https://t.co/hwfJvkUNqy— Marsha Blackburn (@Marsha Blackburn) 1578323700.0
We really shouldn't be too surprised, though, at these creepy displays of fealty to the Trump family. Axios recently reported that, among the candidates to be the president's potential successor in 2024, both Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. rank in the top four. A few embarrassing tweets would pale in comparison to an active and mortifying choice to turn the GOP into the Trump family dynasty party.