Dan Crenshaw Pushes Back Against Accusations of Trump ‘Undermining Democracy’

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
November 20, 2018 Updated: November 20, 2018

Dan Crenshaw, the newly elected Republican congressman mocked on SNL for the eye-patch he wears due to losing his eye in an IED blast while serving in Afghanistan, set Democrat panelists on edge as he challenged allegations that President Donald Trump is “undermining democracy.”

Crenshaw tweeted a post-discussion shout-out to his co-panelists on the CBS episode of “Face the Nation,” which aired on Nov. 18, featuring incoming House of Representatives members Chrissy Houlahan (D-Penn.), Deb Haaland, (D-N.M.), Joe Neguse, (D-Colo.), as well as Crenshaw himself (R-Tx.).

“Great hanging out with three of my future Democratic colleagues on @FacetheNation,” Crenshaw wrote, “We disagreed respectfully on some things, and found plenty more to work together on in the future.”

Neguse said on the episode that the incoming House majority should focus on oversight of the Trump administration to “save our democracy.”

“I think that right now it’s important for this majority in the House to engage in some really critical oversight of an administration that is undermining a lot of critical freedoms for folks in our country. When I say save our democracy, I mean precisely that,” Neguse said on Sunday as he sat alongside the three other newly elected House representatives. “I think some of our democratic freedoms and the principles that we live by have been under attack for the better part of the last two years.”

Anchor Margaret Brennan turned to Crenshaw to ask if he wanted to respond to Neguse’s assertion, adding “since the president is the leader of your party.”

Crenshaw replied “I always ask the question: Like what?” he said. “Like what is he undermining exactly? What democratic freedoms have been undermined? We just had an election where we switched power in the House. Democracy is at work. People are voting in record numbers. I always ask for examples. And then we can hit those examples one by one, and if it’s worth criticizing, it’s worth criticizing. But this broad brush criticism that the president is somehow undermining our democracy, I always wonder like, what exactly are we talking about?”

“I’d be happy to add all of the things,” said Houlahan, and both she and Neguse accused Trump of “undermining the free press.” Houlahan also listed “the CIA, FBI, the voting process.”

“Well, how has he done that?” Crenshaw then asked. He pointed out that former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department investigated members of the press. “Obama had…many press members under investigation. Trump has not,” Crenshaw said. “So what is the difference here?”

Neguse then brought up CNN’s lawsuit against the Trump administration over the revocation of reporter Jim Acosta’s White Hous press pass.

“One reporter. Not the whole news organization,” Crenshaw responded, and added that Acosta’s pass was revoked for disruptive behavior.

Houlahan then said that Trump himself has been disruptive in press briefings. Crenshaw asked how that was an attack on the press, and Houlahan replied “Because it’s literally an attack on the press.”

Crenshaw, a war veteran with three tours of duty under his belt, then cautioned his fellow panelists to avoid hyperbole.

“Oh, I’ve literally been attacked, so let’s choose our words carefully.”

Video of a portion of the discussion was posted by “Face the Nation.”

Later in the discussion, Crenshaw said why he thinks members of Congress should avoid exaggerated statements and personal attacks.

“I want to caution us, because those are very bold words. If we have policy disagreements, let’s focus on those policy disagreements and I’ll be happy to discuss those at any point,” Crenshaw said. “But this is what I’ve been getting at kind of all week, which is we tend to go right at the jugular, right? We say, ‘You’re undermining democracy, you’re a bad person fundamentally.’ That’s not always true. We have policy disagreements on a lot of these things.”

Civility in Public Discourse

Crenshaw also made an appearance on “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper Sunday, discussing “civility” in public discourse.

“A lot of people [are] talking about civility,” Tapper said. “But things here in Washington and the nation really seem nastier than ever, and I’m wondering if you think your class will try to usher in an era of cooperation, bipartisanship, and civility?”

Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland (D-NM), who also took part in the discussion, responded said, “I feel like some people’s definition of ‘attacked’ is different than ours and what we’ve seen this week. We have all worked together extremely hard. … I feel like we’ve all been very cooperative and actually quite civil to each other.”

“I echo that sentiment of what [does] it really mean to ‘be attacked?'” Crenshaw said. “My whole message last week was, was I really attacked? Was I really offended? That doesn’t mean that what was said wasn’t highly insulting and should be addressed, but I don’t need to feel attacked. And I think that was the message we [were] trying to send. And the other message we’re trying to send also is just, don’t insult people, you know? We can attack each other’s ideas, but not each other as people. That should be the goal moving forward.”

Several days prior to Crenshaw winning his race in the 2nd Congressional District of Texas, “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson came under fire for mocking the veteran’s appearance.

Davidson later apologized and Crenshaw went on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 10, to accept the apology.

Crenshaw called for unity and forgiveness.

“But seriously, there’s a lot of lessons to learn here,” he said. “Not just that the left and the right can still agree on some things, but also this: Americans can forgive one another. We can remember what brings us together as a country and still see the good in each other.”

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'