Updated: Jan 6
Have you heard the new radio ad from Ben Sasse campaigning for reelection? As corn pone as he can, given his Harvard, Yale and Oxford education, he complains that Washington has more crap than any Nebraska feed lot. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is absolutely fabulous that Senator Sasse was capable of achieving the kind of academic excellence he did, and heaven knows I agree with the sentiment of his ad. What I object to is his fundamentally dishonest approach. Ben Sasse is anything but an ah-shucks country boy, and his ad is patronizing – reducing all Nebraskans to a ridiculous bicoastal stereotype.
Here’s the truth. Ben Sasse was valedictorian in his graduating class at Fremont High. From there: he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard; one master’s degree from St. John’s and another in philosophy from Yale; and a PhD in history from Yale. His education is an extraordinary list of accomplishment.
After college, he took a series of jobs, each lasting a year or less - odd. In one he consulted on national security and in another on health care. Yet another gig was consulting for health care investors while he was teaching at the University of Texas. He spent a lot of time bouncing back and forth from Austin, Texas to Washington, DC. When you examine the progression, there is no logic to it other than it is obvious there is someone or something behind it all.
In 2010 with great fanfare, Sasse became President of Midland Lutheran College which he immediately rebranded as Midland University. At age 37, he was one of the youngest university presidents in America. By all accounts, he did an absolutely amazing job as president, which as we all know is chiefly about raising money.
Then, with only a little over three years in that job, he announces he is running for the open Senate seat vacated by Mike Johanns, and in the first quarter after his announcement, he is able to raise more money than anyone before him - $815,000.
The rumor in Washington was that Sasse had the commitment of the three most powerful Super Pacs for a Senate bid before he ever set foot back in Nebraska to run Midland, and that the same people who supported him for his Senate bid, were the people who guaranteed his success at Midland.
Now I don’t fault anyone for planning their future or building relationships to facilitate that future, but I can’t get away from the fact that this all sounds a great deal like Senator Sasse is being groomed and guided by a very powerful broker – maybe for the presidency itself.
When you hear Senator Sasse speak, there are three things that come to mind. First, he spends a lot of time playing like he’s just one of the guys, when clearly he is not. That kind of cleverness is inherently condescending and generally perpetrated by political con men. Second, there is always a gilded philosophical air about him, that leads me to believe he has no understanding of what it’s like to face life without advantage. He invariably hovers over everyone, judging and analyzing, without any empathy of what it means to face the more difficult challenges of life. Finally, the one thing that is profoundly clear is that Ben Sasse is nothing more than an Establishment politician. He represents Establishment interests and believes that he and they are superior to the needs of everyone else. To me, that is exactly the kind of candidate that must be defeated.