U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst campaigned for Donald Trump. She gave, perhaps, the most substantive speech of the Republican National Convention's opening night. She stood alongside him on stages throughout Iowa making his case.
Ernst worked for this. And now, she doesn't want to take the heat.
Ernst isn't the only Republican member of Congress tired of defending the tweeter-in-chief. But her response during a town hall on Monday in Red Oak is nothing short of an attempt to shirk her responsibility for the chaos now masquerading as governance.
"I don't respond a lot to what the president's saying because, if I'm going to talk, I want to talk about the things I'm working on," Ernst told the crowd peppering her with questions about Trump's behavior, according to KETV.
That won't cut it, Senator. Trump's immense power means his words and actions define the political moment. Those things Ernst says she's "working on" do not exist in a vacuum.
Ernst, like a lot of Trump's supporters, promised Iowans that he would evolve once he entered the White House. The gravity of the job, the argument went, would force him to abandon the divisive, base-feeding rhetoric and grapple with the complexities of a socially and economically heterogeneous nation.
Instead, the American president's own staff grouse about his unwillingness to learn the basics about policy. He inflames global tensions 140 characters at a time. He attacks his own constituents -- more than half the country -- for simply disagreeing with him.
Trump is not the leader Ernst promised.
Iowa's junior senator made her bed. It's time she lie in it.
The U.S. is, by every account, in total chaos. The sweeping tax overhaul, the GOP lone legislative achievement in the Trump era, would have happened with any Republican residing in the White House. In the past week, Trump promised to "take the heat" if a bipartisan immigration compromise offended his base. Days later, senators brought him such a compromise and he rejected it, complete with some crass xenophobia. Trump's administration said it supported extending National Security Agency's controversial domestic spying program. But hours before the House was set to vote on the issue, Trump came out against it. Then, after a phone call from House leadership, Trump again did an about-face and, ultimately, supported the bill.
Trump's position is formed solely by with whom he last spoke. There's no rhyme, reason or political worldview from which he's operating. Trump desires only victory. And he's none too concerned with what that victory actually means for the country.
The president is an isolated, incurious man sitting atop an administration where pay-to-play, nepotism and palace intrigue are standard operating procedure.
On at least one occasion, Ernst did challenge the president's toxic drivel. She came out, carefully, against his attempt at booting transgender service members from the Armed Forces. It was a commendable moment. But, so far, it's also been an isolated incident.
Ernst isn't alone -- or even the worst offender -- among Iowa Republicans who carry Trump's water. Sen. Chuck Grassley has run an all-out deflection campaign for Trump from his seat atop the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Steve King is, well, an embarrassment who gleefully champions the most nativist, racist components of Trump's rhetoric.
But King didn't play a substantial personal role in convincing Iowans to back Trump. Grassley worked quietly behind the scenes, urging GOP delegates that the Supreme Court was reason enough to support Trump regardless of his failings. Ernst, however, was Trump's in-state champion who, at one point, was among those discussed as potential vice presidential candidates.
Ernst made a lot of promises about the would-be president, pledges that have been exposed as hollow rhetoric. Iowans are right to want answers.