Op Ed

Sen. Ron Johnson Mired In Trump’s Swamp

Johnson attacks FBI, CIA, and the whistleblower to defend Trump.

By - Oct 9th, 2019 03:31 pm
Ron Johnson and Donald Trump.

Ron Johnson and Donald Trump.

How would you like to be a Republican congressman and have to defend attempts to engage foreign governments in American presidential politics of 2020?

How would like to have to defend soaring federal deficits and record levels of national debt?

How would you support an escalating set of trade wars that have so far not made a significant dent in the U.S. trade deficit?

How would you refute the critics of Trump’s foreign policy, such as the just announced pullout from Syria or the continued strikeout on reducing the belligerence from North Korea?

That’s the predicament Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and the state’s four Republican congressmen find themselves in as facts emerge about President Trump’s pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens, father and son.

President Trump doubled down on that issue with a request of the Chinese to wade into opposition research to help his campaign. It is his way of asserting that it’s perfectly okay to ask for election help from foreign leaders. Most Americans won’t buy that claim.

Sen. Johnson became unglued when he attacked the “leakers” of the Ukraine whistleblower report and when he tried to defend President Trump’s solicitation of foreign help on U.S. campaign matters on “Meet the Press.”

The senator, a Trump loyalist, was in an impossible position. The president has dragged Johnson and all GOP congressmen into a swamp. There are simply no good answers to some of the issues the president has created. Sen. Johnson said repeatedly that he was just seeking “the truth” when he defended the president’s requests of foreign governments.

He will not find “the truth” through those channels. Foreign leaders will release information that serves their purposes. It will always have a spin.

Sen. Johnson said he does not trust the FBI or CIA to ferret what is real or not in the multiplying conspiracy theories surrounding our presidential elections.

The questions then arise: Where will the senator find the truth? Who does he trust?

In the end, the American people will have to determine for themselves what’s real and what’s not. To that end, the whistleblowers and leakers are serving the American people. How else are we going to get to the heart of the political narratives? The politicians will reveal only what they want to reveal.

Recent polls show that the American people want more “truth” on the president’s entreaties of foreign governments for election purposes. By a margin of 58% to 38%, the respondents to a Washington Post-Schar School poll support the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

The plight of Republican senators and representatives is compounded in Wisconsin. Polls that show voters swinging sharply against re-election of the president in 2020. The top three Democratic challengers all top Trump: Joe Biden by 9 points, Bernie Sanders by 5 and Elizabeth Warren by 4.

The latest Marquette polls, which are highly regarded, showed similar trends. The president’s ratings are dropping, even though he stirs the pot with new pieces of controversial policy on an almost daily basis.

Do the Wisconsin representatives want to ride on the president’s coat tails, or do they want to be at arms length? Is he a winner or a loser?

In addition to their personal careers and control of Congress there’s a lot at stake. Wisconsin is a swing state whose ten electoral votes were critical to the Trump win in 2016.

The poll results are telling us that American voters are trying to sort out the charges and counter-charges that emanate from the president’s Twitter warfare.

I don’t know about you, but I get up in the morning, read the sports page and then look to the main news section to see what kind of bombshell President Trump dropped in the last 12 hours. There’s almost always something new to sir the political pot.

I’m getting campaign fatigue, and the election is still 13 months away. Even for a political junkie, it’s not fun anymore. I can’t tell who’s on first, second or third.

One rock-solid conclusion from the political reality show is that the Republican Party is in an implosion. Fractures are everywhere. The Trump dynamics have already driven three Wisconsin Republicans to leave the House of Representatives.

Given the kind of stress Sen. Johnson has had to endure in recent weeks and months, there will probably be more GOP defectors. I feel sorry for the good guys in Congress, and there are a lot of them. They didn’t sign up for these theatrics.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op Ed: Sen. Ron Johnson Mired In Trump’s Swamp”

  1. frank a schneiger says:

    Contrary to what Mr. Torinus states, Ron Johnson is not “in an impossible position.” The Kurds in Syria are in an impossible position. People in Yemen who are being killed and starved with weapons that we supply the Saudis are in an impossible position. Little kids separated from their parents by our government are in an impossible position. Even government officials trying to find a moral and ethical path and holding onto their jobs in this administration’s morass of lies, cruelty and corruption are not in an impossible position, although they face choices that decent people should not be forced to make.

    Ron Johnson is a wealthy man with a seat in the United States Senate. He is also an arrogant right-wing opportunist who, as anyone who has seen him in action can attest, is in way over his head. He is a leader of the Republican Party, now the party of Donald Trump and the moral sewer of Trumpism. Given what is happening to our democracy, there is a term from the first half of the 20th century that, looking back, will be applied to the Ron Johnsons of the world who have been complicit in this destruction of our values, institutions and moral standing. That term is Quisling. History was not kind to the Quislings. It will not be kind to the Ron Johnsons.

    Mr. Torinus is right on target about fatigue, a grave danger given what is happening to our country on almost a weekly basis. It is scary to think that the election is still 13 months away.

  2. Alan Bartelme says:

    Like Frank said – Johnson is not in an impossible position. He freely chose to side with Trump, and can suffer the consequences of that choice.

  3. mkwagner says:

    The Republican implosion is of their own making. Beginning with the pledge to never support anything President Obama supported, to the continuous dog whistles attacks made against peoples of color. Even their call for smaller government drips with racial animus since government jobs were the few avenues in which people of color could find careers.

    Trump and all his corruption is the result of decades of a Republican party more interested in power than governance. Trump is the result of politics of fear that Republicans have honed into an art. Unfortunately, fear consumes all, even those who peddle it.

  4. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Amen to mkwagner. Adding to what mkw wrote, I think that Republican apologists for Trump need to acknowledge that they have bargained with a devil, that they have besmirched themselves in that bargain, and that they will pledge heretofore to be open minded to the inherent generosity in liberal thinking. Fox News may have to go black before the above could happen, but remember this: Fox News is a relatively recent aberration inflicted on us by a few rich bigots. It could go away as quickly as it arrived if penitent apostates of the horse manure that Fox has peddled jumped ship in droves.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us