The Bloodbath Club

To join, all you have to do is a.) be a Republican senator; and b.) predict an electoral "bloodbath" for your party next month. It's starting to look like the whole caucus wants in.

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“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R.-Neb.) said Wednesday in a telephone “town hall” with his constituents, “and that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train. It’s why I didn’t agree to be on his re-election committee, and it’s why I’m not campaigning for him.” Here’s the audio clip, courtesy of the Washington Examiner, a conservative newspaper in the nation’s capital:

Five days earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Tex.) said on CNBC that “If on Election Day, people are angry, and they’ve given up hope and are depressed—which is what Pelosi and Schumer want them to be—I think it could be a terrible election. It could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions.”

Perhaps you’re wondering whether U.S. senators are supposed to predict, on the eve of an election, that their opponents are about to re-enact the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones at their own personal expense. They are not. The usual thing is either to express great confidence or to keep your mouth shut.

But these are not ordinary times. These senators are positioning themselves—Sasse explicitly, Cruz implicitly—to travel some distance from President Donald Trump before his expected defeat, and the Republicans’ expected loss of the Senate majority, on Nov. 3. “Don’t blame us,” they are preparing to say. “This was Trump’s fault.”

It’s not likely to work.

That’s because, although both men have criticized Trump in the past, they supported his policies, and, after Trump was impeached, they both voted to acquit him. They will both vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, even though voting in the 2020 election began before her confirmation hearing, and even though, in 2016, they both refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court a full eight months before Election Day—on the grounds that it was an election year.

They had their chances to be brave, and they passed them up.

Like the rest of the GOP, Sasse and Cruz will own no small part of Trump’s defeat, should it occur, because they were part of his presidency. Their party is Trump’s party. Their charter membership in the Bloodbath Club doesn’t change that.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other Senate Republicans predict a bloodbath, using that same term, “bloodbath,” to signal that they’re off the team now that it’s too late to matter. I’ll update this post if and when membership in the Bloodbath Club expands.