Cut Bait, GOP | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly

Cut Bait, GOP 

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Sen. Mike Lee is a creep of the highest order. For more than three years now, the Utah Republican has cogently enabled Donald Trump's every whim and behavior. He has ignored Trump's misogyny and boorish behaviors. He has heard Trump's racist dog whistles. He has supported Trump's ignorance of global affairs. He's done nothing to stop Trump's constant battering ram upon the most basic American institutions like the free press, the military and our justice system. He calls himself a tireless advocate for our founding constitutional principles. Phooey!

He silently allowed Trump's self-serving messages about COVID-19 to cripple our nation's effective response to the growing threat of coronavirus, gambling that by the November election, it would be a distant memory. With over 110,000 deaths nationwide and on the heels of Utah's coronavirus rates rising weekly, it would behoove all of us to never forgive or forget what Lee really did these past three months: Licked boots.

He should know that silent fealty doesn't work. At least, you'd think he knows that. For as I write this column today, George Floyd is being laid to rest in Houston. For the past 15 days, Lee has done not one bit of good for the citizens of Utah or the nation as it relates to the death of George Floyd, nor any of the larger issues of racism that surround what some lazily accept as "just the way it is."

He was silent when President Trump was rage-tweeting from what is now known on Twitter as his "White House Baby Bunker." He was silent when protesters were tear-gassed and beaten. To be fair, he was also silent when persons protesting the protesters were also beaten. He merrily lets Trump do what Trump does—stir the pot and let the chips fall where they may, being clever enough to avoid the slop falling on him. The only time he expressed a modicum of outrage was when the Utah National Guard was told it was no longer welcome in the Washington, D.C., hotel where they were lodged (the 200-member deployment was a gift to President Trump from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert).

At that point, Lee gathered all his fingers and presumably all of his manhood in order to craft a call-to-arms tweet that went: "These brave men and women have risked their lives protecting DC for three days. Rioting, looting, arson and vandalism have all disappeared because these soldiers served. And now they are being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor."

Uhh, what's missing here? Besides context, that is. Neither in that tweet nor in the two others that he sent out since George Floyd died did he mention Floyd by name. His tweet tacitly implies that those who gathered in support of Black Lives Matter were the culprits behind said looting, rioting and arson. He did that while President Trump was overtly blaming protesters or Antifa as being cause and party to the destruction of America. Lee's silence was speaking once again. Yesterday, however, Lee delivered a speech in the empty Senate chamber in which he went way out on a limb to recite, "George Floyd's loss is our loss."

I'm not certain if I've ever come across a more compassionate six words of the English language. It was a throwaway line at best.

The speech was an opportunity for Lee to immortalize Ogden police officer Nate Lyday, and Lee should have kept it that way. Lyday was killed on May 28, 2020, while on duty trying to resolve a domestic-abuse issue. Lyday deserved every good word and then some. My respect for what law enforcement does every night and every day is profound. Before he died just over a year ago, my brother-in-law was a chief of police for a city in Salt Lake Valley. Two of my cousins retired as cops. But I believe Lee did justice to neither Lyday nor Floyd. I believe if Lee were going to do any good at all in his speech, he could have done so by comparing the good deeds of Lyday to the terrible deeds of the Minneapolis policeman who put his knee to the neck of George Floyd.

But that's not who Lee is. Lee is a company man, a toad. Today, our president sent yet another unbelievable tweet suggesting that the 75-year-old man who was shoved to the sidewalk in Buffalo, New York—then left bleeding—is an Antifa provocateur. Have we heard from Mike Lee? No. Do we expect to? No. It's not in the script, and Lee is doing his part as an extra on Trump TV.

It pays well, you know. Here's his reward: Tweeted from the president himself directly to all of us Utahns just a couple of hours ago:

"Relief is on the way to Utah! I'm proud to send $187.18M in CARES Act funding to @RideUTA. This money will keep people moving and support a swift and smooth economic recovery for the GREAT people of Utah."

We should all recall that just a couple months ago, President Trump was using hospital ventilators and PPE as bargaining chips to leverage over states in order to get his way. Do you think for even a second that Utah getting anything now is because Trump gives a rat about Utah? Nope. He gives a rat that Lee—and by extension all of the rest of the Utah GOP who support him—stay in his tent pissing out, and not pissing in. Next time you ride UTA, thank Mike Lee, but for all the wrong reasons.

Trump is going to lose in November. Anyone sticking with Trump politically needs to be voted out of office next time—or never voted in. Time to cut bait, Utah GOP.

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About The Author

John Saltas

John Saltas

John Saltas, Utah native and journalism/mass communication graduate from the University of Utah, founded City Weekly as a small newsletter in 1984. He served as the newspaper's first editor and publisher and now, as founder and executive editor, he contributes a column under the banner of Private Eye, (the original... more

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