Have you ever wondered why, with 535 members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, we keep hearing only from a tiny fraction of the entire congressional body?
OK, maybe you haven’t wondered about that. But I have. I find it annoying almost in the extreme.
The ongoing discussion about the Affordable Care Act, the budget, whether to shut the government down and a host of other pressing issues of late brings this topic to mind.
Since the loudest voices all seem to be Republicans these days, I’ll pick on them mostly here.
I’ve been intrigued particularly by the ubiquitous presence of one Ted Cruz, junior Republican senator from Texas, who’s been holding the only elected office he’s ever held for all of nine months. But the guy is everywhere, ranting about “Obamacare” and pledging to do everything within his power to defund it.
I’ll make Cruz my Blowhard in Chief on this one.
But as I look at the Senate roster I see a lot of other capable Republicans — especially those who’ve been around a lot longer than Cruz — who would be just as capable, articulate and forceful as the junior U.S. senator from Texas, who has managed to eclipse even his more senior Texas colleague, Republican John Cornyn.
Where has Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch been? Anyone seen or heard from Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran? I’m about to put an all points bulletin on Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who once served as education secretary for President George H.W. Bush.
The Senate has about 90 or so silent types who I guess prefer to leave the blustering to the likes of Cruz, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
To be sure, Democrats have their share of Senate blabbermouths. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York seem to be the Democrats’ loudest mouthpieces.
I’d rather hear, though, from Al Franken of Minnesota, who in his previous life was a hilarious “Saturday Night Live” cast member.
The House has its small cadre of Republican blowhards as well. I think of Peter King of New York, Steve King of Iowa and Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota (who, thankfully, is leaving Congress after the 2014 election). I’d throw Southeast Texas Republican Steve Stockman into that mix, but he’s too goofy to be taken seriously. As for House Democrats, let’s trot out Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Debbie Schultz of Florida (who also chairs her party’s national committee).
I’ll mention only one silent House member whose voice ought to be heard. He is Mac Thornberry from right here in the Texas Panhandle. The Clarendon lawmaker has been around since 1995 and has as much stroke and political moxie as any of the aforementioned loudmouths.
I realize we all have our favorite blowhards. I’m sure to have left out someone’s favorite.
But the main point here is that the collective bodies of both congressional chambers are full of wise men and women of both parties who have as much to say as the clowns to whom I’ve just referred.
It once was said of former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm that the most dangerous place in America was “the space between Sen. Gramm and a TV camera.”
That description clearly now applies to Ted Cruz — and maybe a handful of others.