Could Ben Sasse become the Republican Bob Kerrey?

Kerrey-SasseA former writer for Buzzfeed gave a quirky anecdote on Facebook recently about spending time with Nebraska’s Junior U.S. Senator Ben Sasse:

Ben Sasse grabbed my arm in a Senate hallway & said “Watch this.” He swung us into a nearby Georgia Senator’s office, walked right past the receptionist, got down on one knee & started raiding the fully stocked mini-fridge of Coca-Cola products. “What do ya want? It’s an open bar!” he shouted.

Arms full of drinks, he thanked the “good people of Georgia” for their “donation to Freedom,” bowed & walked out.

I shrugged at the exasperated receptionist. “He does this every day,” she said.

One of Sasse’s campaign lieutenants thought this was a good-one, and Tweeted it out.

Other readers emailed it to me, with a sort of astounded, “is this for real?”

It’s easy to look at it both ways.

Sort of a quirky, fun, playing-out-of-bounds kind of guy.
(The Georgia Senator’s staff probably thought it was pretty funny, the first few times.)

Or, a knock-it-off already, what are you doing here?, strange move.
(The Georgia Senator’s staff probably tired of it, after the first few times.)

So here is Ben Sasse: a Freshman U.S Senator, who is already making national news. He has become the darling of the right. He represents a fresh face in politics and Washington, among the stodgy old gray-haired men who have populated it since it rose from a swamp.

There was a similar rise by a young politician from Nebraska.
Bob Kerrey.

***

Bob Kerrey was the smart, young Governor who came out of nowhere to beat incumbent Charlie Thone in 1982.

He dated a movie star! He danced at the Springsteen concert!

He forced a train full of nuclear waste to halt at the Nebraska border, and obey his commands, before it moved across Nebraska.

He was “Rockin’ Bob Kerrey” and everyone loved him!

But at some point…his quirks stated to show.
He quit as a one-term Governor, only to make a comeback as a Senator.

But soon, even those in Washington found his continual wavering to be…distracting.

He went from “Rockin’ Bob” to…“Cosmic Bob”.

He eventually left the Senate and moved to New York City — where he was arguably happier with his new family.

(If you ever read the follow up to Anonymous Joe Klein’s “Primary Colors” — “The Running Mate” — you can see that it is essentially about Kerrey — a former war-hero Presidential candidate who moves to New York and becomes “happy” with his new surroundings.)

And then when he tried to make a comeback, 30 years after Nebraskans had first met him, he ran into a female cattle rancher who suggested that she was “someone who will bring Nebraska to Washington, not Washington to Nebraska.

Nebraskans were done with Cosmic Bob, and he shuffled back to be happy with his family in New York City.

These days Kerrey still makes the rounds on some of the cable politics shows. But when Nebraskans refer to “Bob”, they’re talking about a bridge named after him.

***

This is not to say that Ben Sasse is on any trajectory that Bob Kerrey was on. But he has already staked out a different position than most are used to.

He arguably was not the national party’s first pick for the Republican nomination and bucked some of the traditional campaign methods, to win the seat.

He has shown that he is hip these days with the younger demographic, by going directly to the people using social media’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to deliver his message.

He is continuing to buck his own party on its Presidential nominee, even going so far as to knock his home state Republican base.

Many say, hey, “I like that quirky, fun, playing out-of-bounds style.”

While others are saying, “Knock it off.”

In this year of Bernie and The Donald, Sasse’s “Bust in and grab some pop!” kind of style may be just what the electorate ordered.

Then again, as maybe he was saying to the Washington press corps, Nebraska doesn’t always ride with the rest of the electorate.

***

The local press seem to be fomenting some sort of a rift between Junior Senator Ben Sasse and Senior Senator Deb Fischer.

For what it’s worth Deb Fischer, as noted above, suggested back in 2012 when she was running against Bob Kerrey — before anyone in politics had heard of Ben Sasse — that she is “someone who will bring Nebraska to Washington, not Washington to Nebraska.”

And Ben Sasse’s first proposal on the 2014 Senate campaign trail was this:

“We move the Capitol to Nebraska.”

Probably the same campaign slogan, put in two different ways. Probably.

***

Bob Kerrey told CNBC that because he increasingly doesn’t agree with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he feels like “a man without a party.” Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel said a while back, “the Republican party left me.”

And Ben Sasse says he is on the “neither” Presidential bandwagon — but with a dwindling Third Party option, it is not clear which way he will steer.

As some will say, that’s Ben Sasse being Ben Sasse.
At some point Nebraskans may decide whether that means he’s Rockin’, or Cosmic.

*****

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53 comments

  1. Bluejay says:

    Ben Sasse is a serial Coca-Cola thief.

    Disturbing. Very disturbing.

    He gets an opponent in the primary, but it better not be McCoy. McCoy is too stupid.

    • Anonymous says:

      If I was the Receptionist in that Georgia office I would be asking my boss to tell Benny boy to knock it off. In other words, we did not send U.S. Senate material to DC in this guy.

      • The Grundle King says:

        You don’t have any running jokes amongst your co-workers? Or just no co-workers?

      • Oracle says:

        I don’t know, GK. You seem as guilty of blindly defending your guy Sasse, as the Trumpkins are with their guy.

      • The Grundle King says:

        My eyes are wide open, Oracle. I’m not blindly defending him, I just think this particular attack was totally absurd. Cans of pop? Is this something we’re actually going to discuss.

        I’m supporting the man with the conservative record. That would be Ben Sasse. Trump can’t even settle on which party he wants to be in, let alone on his policy positions.

    • Anonymous says:

      And now we know that William Weld, former Governor of Massachusettes, will run for Vice President of the United States over Memorial Day week-end. Together with the front-running Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, who is polling at about 10% now, the NEITHER is looking better every day! By Labor Day Trump and Clinton may have some real competition!

    • Sparkles says:

      Sasse Baron.
      Brother-from-another-mother of media entrepreneur Sacha Baron Cohen, producer and star of –
      Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

      Couldn’t be more appropriate.
      Smart, savvy. skillful at playing the media and inventing caricatures for profit and fame.

  2. Tony Oberley says:

    Sasse is in a bad spot right now. If Trump wins, he will be ignored in the Senate. If Trump loses, Sasse will be blamed for the loss. But Sasse did this to himself.

  3. The Grundle King says:

    “But he has already staked out a different position than most are used to.”

    What would that “different position” be? That presidential candidates should be, oh, I don’t know…presidential? Honorable? Or maybe just simply respectful towards other presidential candidates in your own party?

    Because Donald Trump is none of those things. That Sasse cannot bring himself to get on board with such an individual, while the rest of the party gravitates toward a man who exemplifies some of the worst of the human nature, should not surprise anyone. A lot of us feel the same way.

    Ben Sasse hasn’t changed his positions. Donald Trump changes positions about as often as he changes clothes. First he wants to send ground troops after ISIS, then he doesn’t, then he does again. He’s not going to deport illegal immigrants, or he’ll only deport the bad ones but let the ‘Dreamers’ stay…oops, nope, deport them too. And he likes bans on ‘assault weapons’…err, wait…he registers as a Republican and now assault weapon bans are bad.

    When Obama ran for president, Republicans criticized him for avoiding any sort of accountability for policy positions during his time in the Illinois legislature, where he voted “present” a lot. When John Kerry ran for president, Republicans (rightfully) hammered him over his ‘flip-flopping’…famously supporting the war in Iraq before opposing it.

    But along comes Trump, who not only switches positions, but changes political parties as often as he changes wives…and not only to self-professed conservatives accept him, they admire him to the point of absurdity.

    • Frequent Voter says:

      GK – what are those of us who are experiencing existential angst at the absurdity of our formerly beloved GOP, at levels previously unknown, supposed to do now?

      • TexasAnnie says:

        You might consult Heidegger and Sartre. Distinguish whether your angst is FEAR or ANXIETY. If it is fear, remove the fear (quit the GOP). If it is anxiety, you must examine yourself and find your own authenticity. In this case you must answer: Which is more important, the GOP as merely your mechanism for day-to-day living, or, the GOP as essential to your BEING. And by being, I mean your essence (the fact of your material existence or your ideation).

        Trump is your candidate!

      • Tony Oberley says:

        You’re right anon, Trump supporters are sick of the establishment approved nice guys that always get their ass kicked. Trump is already coming out saying Clinton raped women. Romney would have never done that.

      • The Grundle King says:

        Which Clinton raped women? And which Clinton is running for President?

        I don’t like either one. I didn’t vote for Bill, and I WON’T vote for Hill…but I’m having a hard time figuring out where ‘condemning rape’ fits into the picture of making America great again. Is there some sort of widespread movement to legalize rape in this country?

  4. The Eye Ball says:

    So you’re talking about the Georgia Senator and Coca-Cola? You do know Coca-Cola’s international headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia right? Oh, I will just let you figure it out.

  5. anon says:

    The establishment prodigy of new media has bird foot tracks all over him by the old guy, two Ben’s are too many

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m just tired of Sasse’s blatant self-promotion. He’s only been in office a year and a half. This is going to be a long 3 1/2 years to someone Primarying him.

  7. Hart Senate Office Blg says:

    Sweeper, you need to offer Sasse ad space. I hear he and his staff spend lots of time posting comments and venting about your site.

  8. Beef State says:

    It may not be clear which way Sasse will “steer” but clearly he has become one.

    Sasse has some uses from now. Being productive isn’t one of them.

  9. Not A Child In His Classroom says:

    Ben bet wrong early on in this process. Now the casino is closing, the dealer has left, but Ben still wants to prove he knew what he was doing. He’s still wagering and only his fellow gamblers who’ve lost everything refuse to fold.

    Game’s over, Ben.

    • Anon says:

      He picked the wrong horse and can’t deal with it, Trump takes his denial wrath. Whether vindicated later, he hasn’t got it

    • Matt G says:

      Or over time, Sasse may be proven right. Nobody seems to mention that but the facts are on his side. Trump has more of disaster than Rock star in his history.

  10. Wussy Sasse says:

    Ben wrestled at an Ivy League School. Bob Kerry took down Viet Cong and “Neutralized” many threats (and a couple villagers too). Bob may have been flaky but he wasn’t some Prissy Elitist. I’m not a Cosmic Bob fan but the guy paid his dues.

    • Bluejay says:

      Non-elitism is not defined by military service. Cosmic Bob dined out on his Vietnam service his entire political career. And I don’t mean Grandmother’s.

      • Sparkles says:

        “dined out on his Vietnam service” – my ass!

        Jesus!
        Is it just me that finds this perpetual disrespect so offensive!
        Is there no one out there on the right who has worn the uniform, who understands the test of character endured, that will stand up?

        Bob Kerrey is, by all accounts, one of Nebraska’s very finest sons.
        A Lincoln born native who grabbed his own bootstraps and forged a path to a remarkable legacy of business success in the state and courageous, heralded and honored service to country.
        How many people over a 40 year span in business do you imagine bought the 3 piece chicken dinner because Bob Kerrey was a Medal of Honor recipient?
        During a decade of as President of the New School Kerrey he more than doubled the endowment, secured substantial federal funding for the school and helped the New School accomplish major academic growth and expansion.
        He must has worn his Seal fatigues to school, huh? What else could explain the success?

        By comparison, Valentine High School Board member Deb Fischer, just like Sasse ‘Uncle Sugar Daddy’ Baron, rode Sarah Palin and a wave of NE Tea Party Spongiform Encephalopathy along with ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas’ self defeating ignorance to seats among the Least Productive Congresses in the history of our nation.
        A lack of production, disdain for accomplishment and deliberate dereliction of duty that is somehow APPLAUDED by a delusional faction of the Republican party that now – via Donald the serial liar and con man Trump – threatens the stability and welfare of our nation.
        Tea addled Huskers disparaged and rejected an accomplished native son, Navy Seal and Medal of Honor recipient and chose instead a High School Board member, avaricious land-grabbing, government subsidy loving Deb Fischer to represent the values of Nebraskans.
        Placing a her in a prominent position on the Committee on Armed Services. Making a Valentine rancher the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.
        Cause clearly, Nebraska had no one better prepared for such a role.
        Seal Team 1, Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, service on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
        Not relevant, right?
        After all, we’re talking about ‘Cosmic Bob’ the ‘Carpetbagger’, a whacky leftist hiding behind a shiny medal – right?!

        “Bob Kerrey Will Call Your Bullshit”
        Ted Genoways, September/October 2012 Issue

      • Tony Oberley says:

        Don’t forget about John “reporting for duty” Kerry. Who tried to use fake Purple Heart medals to get elected President. Thank God the Swift Boat veterans single handedly sank his campaign and gave him a landslide loss to W.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sparkles, It could be worse. A novice could have been elected president and really screwed up our foreign policy by giving such as Iran hundreds of billions of dollars to support international terrorism while only delaying by a few years their development of their own nukes. Or watch as North Korea builds more nukes and misselles to put them on, or watch as China takes over the South China sea etc etc. All while cutting the military to one of the lowest levels in decades.

        Except it isn’t just a night mare, it is today’s reality.

        Yes I served. Your hyperbolic rant reeks of insincerity. Just another American hero you latched on to support your own purposes. Your lack of shame is disgusting.

  11. TexasAnnie says:

    Deb Fischer was more than a school board member, she was in the Unicam wherein she persuaded her compadres to use sales tax for roads funding.

    Bob Kerrey owned property, and paid property tax to the State of Nebraska, during his presidential run. He was no carpet-bagger.

    But…both Deb and Bob believe in corporate welfare. Shame!

    • Anonymous says:

      She was also a rancher. I would think you might understand that that isn’t like the easy life city folks live while writing crap on blogs siting in their recliner all the while drinking a nice cold one. If it is so easy, why aren’t you and Sparkles doing the same thing?

      • Bynd says:

        By the way, I don’t like corporate welfare either. But you folks have done exactly what to change that system? I believe it was Sparkles who said something about leading. I see u folks are all about setting examples to back up you rhetoric.

      • TexasAnnie says:

        Well, I’m not ranching here in central Texas because I want to support the public schools! You see, the nearby “ranches” wherein they run goats for five years and then convert to a “wildlife reserve” saves greedy “ranchers” from paying about 90% of their property tax. Now you can be sure that the wildlife around here uses my land too. Indeed, I provide both food and water, especially during drought.

        Now, it’s my understanding that the “ranchers” in western Nebraska don’t have to pay the full value of their property tax either. And during my 16 years there, they bitched constantly because they wanted more state support for their little, bitty schools. And don’t get me started on agricultural subsidies, both state and federal! City folks pay your bills, bubba.

      • Sparkles says:

        Anonymous,

        Tea Party Deb and her immediate family have raked in nearly $3 Million in government handouts at their humble little, hard scrabble life at the lowly ranch.

        Also, that Iran Deal, would be the very same one praised by the vast majority of the U.S. intelligence community, including a wide array of the most well informed Republican foreign policy experts and elder statesmen.
        Sure, Limbaugh, Hannity, Breitbart and Fox Noise hate it. Of course, they’re f%^&ing idiots.
        Speaking of those who hated it – did you notice yesterday’s headline story:
        “Israel’s right-wing Defense Minister resigned – because the government is too right-wing”
        During his resignation speech he publicly stated: “extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel”, and he “can’t trust Netanyahu.”

        Yet another one Obama got right and our always pandering right wingers in Congress and the right wing media profiteers got wrong.
        What a shocker.

      • bynd says:

        Sparkles,

        And each day that pass’, more and more truth of what that Iran deal is, and what it really costs, comes out. If the administration was really transparent, I doubt so many would have lined up to support them. It’s the Bush in Iraq scenario all over again.

        Of course they can launch missiles. Of course they can call for the destruction of Israel. Of course they can now afford to be in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. And rightfully so, they are what the Sunni governments over there fear the most.

        TA: who doesn’t get subsidies from Washington? It is how they keep the power and why the tax code is tens of thousand pages long. What is it that is said about all of it, it must be changed but don’t gore my ox. It is a corrupt system and all are involved to one degree or another. None walk away without blood on their hands. Including you and me. All the outrage is little more than a pacifier to try and make us feel better.

        But it is the system that America (Americans) built. And Trump and Clinton are the products of that system. Our system is perfectly built for the results it gets.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If the media could stop their fascination bordering on obsession with Sasse and find another topic. He strikes me as the child when in the candy aisle goes nuts for attention until such time they get it or a reprimand. Not sure how tweeting all day cute remarks, raiding a refrigerator or even making grandiose speeches is leadership or solves problems. Is it all about Sasse? Seems so. Not sure what he has done to serve as a humble servant. The last few stories here are all about him and he just doesn’t strike me as doing anything to advance solutions whether is our southern open border or focusing on any aspect of what is going on in the Senate where he leads. He sounds goofy with words posing grand oratory about the Constitution which is great, but does it relate to what keeps voters up at night? Not really. Terrorism, mounting debt, economic disparity, open borders, ISIS, outrageously high health insurance, rotten for America trade agreements…and this guy is talking about his kid’s ranch experience while sticking his thumb in a roomful of people who in some way helped him mount his alleged throne? Enough about Ben. Let him wither on the vine such that Gingrich once observed of other matters. Sasse has worn out his welcome much the way the uncle has on a holiday with one too many jokes that aren’t funny. He is a PR nightmare, though a legend in his own mind.

  13. My Dog's Sasse Hole says:

    To answer your question, YOU are giving Sasse what he wants. Attention. Sweeper’s entire lead comment is about Sasse. Sasse likes that. He isn’t facing voters for four years and that’s an eternity in politics.

    What’s there to lose? Americans want to hang the entire Senate. They believe everyone in Congress is a rotten bastard. While most Senators are trying to polish that unrectifiable turd image, Sasse is being the turd au natural. He sees it as gaining name traction. It is.

    Of course, Fischer deftly had him chastised. So there is a chance the the prof is in politics just a dumb prick. Prick is okay. Dumb is not okay. But if there is anything to learn from Trump, he might be learning it.

  14. Brenda Starr says:

    Bob Kerrey, who played high school baseball at Lincoln Northeast, left behind his “gym rat” days long before he was elected to represent us in the United States Senate. Sasse’s appearance and demeanor is juvenile. I’m not going to address his politics, but his spoiled-bratishness has worn thin. Kerrey was mature, well-spoken and a bit charismatic as a young politician. Sasse is more like a smelly sneaker. You don’t want to be around him.

  15. Sassse V. Kerrey says:

    Ben served Runzas, Bob owned Restaurants, Point to Bob
    Ben works out in a Gym, Bob owned Gyms, Point to Bob
    Ben was a college President, Bob was a College President, Tie
    Ben detassled Corn, Bob Decimated villages, Point to Bob
    Ben has a rich uncle, Bob has Susie Buffet, Point to Bob
    Ben wants to be a Conservative Rockstar, Bob did a Movie Star, Point to Bob
    Ben wants to be anointed President, Bob actually ran for president, Point to Bob
    Ben 1, Bob 7

  16. anon says:

    Remembering the comments here on “L” st. during the senate primary, there seemed to be a doubt about Sasse. Despite Trump, I think a number of people are saying “I knew it” about who he(Sasse) is.

  17. NotChuck says:

    And who can forget Senator Bob’s post-election “victory speech” when, after keeping his supporters waiting, finally walked out on stage, and instead of thanking them, sang a little a cappella anti-war ditty before walking off?

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