The Salt Lake Tribune really, really wants Sen. Orrin Hatch to know how they feel about him.

In a baffling denial of reality, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch seemed to take a recent local editorial that took him to task in no uncertain terms as a compliment.

But an editor from the paper wants to make it crystal clear for Hatch exactly what they think of him in the Trump era.

When the Salt Lake Tribune named Hatch “Utahn of the Year,” the sarcasm became immediately clear to anyone who read past the headline.

The editors slammed Hatch for his “utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power,” and for going along with the Trump administration’s “anti-environmental, anti-Native American and, yes, anti-business decommissioning of national monuments.”

They made clear that bestowing the title on Hatch was not intended as an honor, but rather a recognition that he “made the most news [and] had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”

Yet Hatch, who apparently did not look past the headline and the picture of himself, seemed to take the editorial as praise. “Grateful for this Christmas honor,” he tweeted.

In case he’s still confused about what the editorial board thinks of him, editor George Pyle offered a succinct further explanation.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson, Pyle slammed Hatch for “resting on his laurels” and for “[thinking] this seat belongs to him rather than to the people of Utah” — in reference to Hatch reneging on his promise not to run for re-election.

Hatch had run on a promise of being influential in the Senate, and with a vow to get things done, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) renewal and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“He did neither,” Pyle noted, and therefore he doesn’t deserve another term to try to keep those promises. There are plenty of candidates to replace him who would mostly vote the same way as Hatch, Pyle added.

But those people “would be less in a position of having gone back on his word, and would probably be rather less embarrassing in the way he’s kowtowing to the president.”

Pyle floated Mitt Romney as a possible challenger, whose voting record would closely mirror Hatch’s, but whom Pyle believes would offer one important difference.

“We would be spared the embarrassment of him sucking up to the president.”

Even Hatch couldn’t possibly take “the embarrassment of him sucking up to the president” as a compliment, no matter how Trumpian his assessment of the news may have become.

And he cannot argue with the facts Pyle laid out: Hatch did indeed engage in some serious groveling toward Trump, calling him “one heck of a leader” who is “living up to everything I thought you would.” And he appallingly cheered for the idea that “we’re gonna make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations but maybe ever.”

And part of that “greatest presidency” was letting CHIP expire because “we don’t have money anymore” after spending it all on tax breaks for the wealthy.

Hatch may not have wanted to read the writing on the wall, or in the newspaper, but local journalists are happy to help him see the light — and the exit door from the Senate floor.


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