Michael Leppert: Republicans offer up nominees for quote of the week


By Michael Leppert

Guest columnist

“Where do I begin?”

This is the quote of the week, an award I often dole out for a wide variety of reasons. Those reasons can be the source of great pride or shame. Profound meaning or comedic genius are both favorite categories of the esteemed accolade.

It is rarely awarded to someone for achieving an “own” of someone on whatever social platform. This award rises above trash talk. There is no trophy, plaque or monetary value, at least not yet. Though it is being discussed.

Todd Young, Indiana’s senior U.S. senator, gave this week’s quote in an answer to this question from CNN’s Manu Ragu: “What’s the reason for you not supporting (Donald Trump’s campaign)?” Whitney Downard reported about the exchange on May 11 for the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

After giving the quote of the week, Young did find his place to begin, primarily Trump’s lack of support for Ukraine’s defense against the unprovoked Russian invasion. But in general, Young pointed out Trump’s losing record and how it was time for Republicans to support winners.

OK, that last part felt a little like Young “owning” Trump. But the original quote is still this week’s winner.

Contrast Young’s perspective with Indiana’s junior U.S. senator and 2024 gubernatorial candidate Mike Braun. He declined to respond to Young’s comments, referring to his comments on April 22: “I think when it comes to that candidate that can portray what was working so well pre-COVID, we know who that was. It was President Trump.”

Let me lightly own Braun here. We are in post-COVID America. Since COVID, Trump has been impeached a second time, indicted once, inspired an insurrection, stolen top secret documents and most recently has been found liable for sexual battery. Oh, and he lost an election, due at least in part, for his mismanagement of COVID.

Jim Banks, the Indiana congressman running to replace Braun in the senate, also is buried in the Trump camp. Banks didn’t comment on the news Young made. No need. However, I am curious what Banks thinks about Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s comments this week. Tuberville said while Democrats may consider white nationalists to be racists, “I call them Americans.” This quote finished in second place this week.

What does this have to do with Banks? Well, he touted the endorsement his senate campaign got from Tuberville back in March. Most Hoosiers didn’t care much about it, but it was a quote of the week candidate in my house, as I pointed out the day Banks announced it.

Speaking of authoritarians synonymous with white nationalists, Hungary President Viktor Orban hosted Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales as a speaker at his “anti-woke” conference last weekend. That’s right, the Indiana secretary of state traveled to eastern Europe to speak during the “Make Kids Not War” segment of the conference. Uh, as a father of two, I still prefer the original slogan, “Make Love Not War,” but don’t tell my sons.

It gets worse. This accidentally hilarious conference attended by Indiana’s election chief also featured a keynote by the pathetically unyielding election denier, defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

The trip was paid for through private funding, as was pointed out by Morales’s state-employed spokesperson, Lindsey Eaton. Although no one caught the irony that Eaton was being paid by the state to respond to media inquiries explaining the private trip.

None of these examples are out of character, though. So while it may sound like I’m upset, angry or surprised by any of it, I’m not. But the last example of the week actually did disappoint me.

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch decided to chime in on America’s southern border crisis. I guess it is perfunctory for a Republican to blame a generational border problem on the person in charge when that person is a Democrat. Even though “owning” has generally gotten boring, Crouch decided this was the time to lower her historically high bar for dignity.

She described the crisis as “a Democrat voter registration drive masquerading as an immigration policy.” Really? That’s the most cynical and classless public statement I’ve ever heard her make. I hope this isn’t a sign of what her own 2024 gubernatorial campaign will become. I think Hoosiers have enough candidates running next year who think and say crap like that.

As a teacher of language, I can attest that GOP-speak is merely a dialect. The U.S. Constitution prohibits designating any official language. Thank you, founders.

Young wins in a week full of challenges for the quote award. Not because I liked what he said but because I think he might actually mean it.

Michael Leppert is an author, educator and communication consultant in Indianapolis. He writes about government, politics and culture at michaelleppert.com. This commentary was originally published at indianacapitalchronicle.com. Send comments to [email protected].

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