Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

Listen to this former GOP leader, Republicans

Bill Frist needs to be heard and heeded.

The former U.S. Senate majority leader worries that the Republican Party he served on Capitol Hill has become something foreign, something he doesn’t recognize.

He has written an essay for the Washington Post in which he says it is imperative to let special counsel Robert Mueller to complete his investigation into whether the Donald Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

Read the essay here.

Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon, doesn’t believe Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians. Nor does he suggest the Senate where he served lacked partisanship. He does say that it was his belief that politicians should put patriotism above party.

He suggests that’s not the case at this moment in our history. It’s dangerous in the extreme to undermine Mueller, Frist writes: Every American should be rooting for Mueller’s success in determining precisely how Russia interfered in our fundamental democratic process. I had no illusions about the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and I have none about Putin now. Mueller’s most recent court filings indicate that Putin is seeking to meddle in this year’s elections. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray — all Trump appointees confirmed by the Republican-led Senate — have also warned of foreign interference. We should heed these warnings and empower Mueller to see his important work through to its conclusion.

The president is intent on derailing Mueller. Indeed, to the extent that Mueller is under such attack by fellow Republicans, it looks to me that Putin has succeeded in undermining our electoral process.

And please … spare me the notion that Bill Frist is a Republican In Name Only. He is no such creature.

Dr. Frist served his country with honor and distinction. Did I agree with every decision he ever made? No. However, he is speaking a fundamental truth about the deteriorating condition of our national political discourse.

Listen to this man!

As he has written: No matter who is in the White House, we Republicans must stand up for the sanctity of our democracy and the rule of law.

Term limit movement might have taken a big hit

I feel compelled to offer a word about term limits and the notion that we ought to restrict the length of time people can serve in Congress.

I’ll provide a name that suggests that we already have term limits: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The 28-year-old New York City community activist knocked off a 10-term Democratic incumbent, Joe Crowley, in Tuesday’s primary election. Crowley was thought to be on the fast track to serious congressional leadership and power.

He is now on a faster track toward private life. Why? He wasn’t doing the job to his constituents’ satisfaction. So they acted. With their votes. Crowley is a goner.

Term limits? We’ve already got ’em, man!

Democrats suffer a gigantic electoral shock

Something happened to U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley’s inexorable march to the chair occupied by the speaker of the House of Representatives.

He got beat! In a Democratic Party primary no less!

His conqueror is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, a first-time political candidate, a self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” a community activist who worked the neighborhoods of Queens and The Bronx in New York City.

Crowley had poured lots of money into this race. He outspent Ocasio-Cortez by about 18 to 1. All that money went for naught, given that Ocasio-Cortez beat Crowley by double digits Tuesday night.

One problem emerged with Crowley’s re-election effort, just as it did in 2014 when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his Virginia GOP primary contest. It turns out Crowley was more interested in his own political ambition than in the problems facing the constituents who sent him to Congress in the late 1990s. He wanted to push Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi aside; he kept yapping about the need for “new leadership” among the House Democratic caucus.

His hope has been that Democrats could retake the House this year and he — not Pelosi — would be chosen as the next speaker of the House.

Did he care about the home folks? They spoke Tuesday night and delivered their verdict that, nope, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Is there a lesson here. Yep.

Somewhere, the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill is laughing out loud. It was O’Neill who coined the well-worn phrase: “All politics is local.”

See you later, former Rep./ex-con Grimm

Good news from Staten Island, N.Y. Republican voters have said “Hell no!” to former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who served prison time for tax evasion and once threatened to toss a reporter from a Capitol Rotunda balcony.

Grimm got beat by nearly 30 percentage points by incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan.

There’s not much to say about this except that GOP voters in Staten Island kept their wits about them by refusing to elect an ex-con to the People’s House.

We’ve got our fair share of crooked bullies in public office already in Washington, D.C.

It’s official: Hell has frozen over

I know I have said this before, so forgive me for repeating myself.

Except this time I am sure of what I am about to say: It’s official. Hell has frozen over. Completely.

How do I know that? Because one of the deans of conservative commentary, George Will — a man who for years was associated with the Republican Party — is urging voters to cast their ballots for (gulp!) Democrats.

Will leads his latest column this way: Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.

Not long ago, Will decided to leave the Republican Party. He is now an “independent” voter. He was a Fox News contributor. Since leaving the GOP, he has gravitated toward other broadcast and cable news networks, where he also contributes to their commentary.

Will dislikes Donald J. Trump. His description of “Republican misrule in Washington” is a direct condemnation of the leadership provided by the president.

Read Will’s column here.

Will wants voters to cast their ballots for Democrats in the 2018 midterm election. He wants congressional power to swing back to Democrats, hoping that they can act as a bulwark against the “carnage” that Trump has created in Washington.

Will writes: In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.

Granted, the idea of a Democratically controlled Capitol Hill doesn’t thrill the columnist. He refers to that possibility this way: A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House.

Still, the very idea that George Will, of all people, would advocate such a rebellion means only one thing: Hell has frozen over.

This is how it should be on Capitol Hill

If you have a little less than 6 minutes of your time to spare, take that time to watch this brief video.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican, is paying tribute to Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, as Biden’s time as VP is nearing an end.

I cannot remember if I’ve shared this video here already. If so, I’d like to do so again to drive home the point that we are hearing damn little of this kind of comity coming from Capitol Hill.

These days we now are hearing snark and sass from Republicans leveling it against fellow Republicans.

Sen. McCain, of course, is seriously ill at the moment. He remains a glowing reminder nonetheless of an era when members of differing political parties could oppose each other without destroying friendships.

If only we could return to this time.

Tell the whole story about GOP findings, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump keeps leaving out a critical portion of a U.S. House Intelligence Committee report on the ongoing Russia meddling investigation.

This really matters. Honest. It does.

The president once again thanked the Intelligence Committee for concluding “there was no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for one little thing. The “exoneration” came from committee Republicans. Intelligence panel Democrats are having none of it. The GOP members drafted the 250-page report all by themselves, with no comment, input or contribution from Democrats who serve on the committee.

According to RealClearPolitics: “No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing, it is a witch hunt,” the president said. “The report was very powerful, very strong. There was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian people.”

“With that all being said, we can get along with Russia. That is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he added.

With that the House Intelligence Committee has wrapped up its work.

However, there’s more work to be done. It’s occurring at the other end of the U.S. Capitol Building, by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Perhaps when the Senate panel finishes its work it will issue a report that includes all its members, not just one side whose only interest is to provide cover for the president.

I should note, too, that former FBI Director James Comey — who’s on a speaking tour promoting his new book — has said that “collusion” isn’t covered specifically by federal statute. If there are indictments to come from, say, special counsel Robert Mueller, they will involve charges of conspiracy or attempts to defraud the government, according to Comey.

Is this investigation nearing an end?

I, um, do not believe that’s the case — no matter what House Intelligence Committee Republicans might think.

‘I’d rather be a vegetarian’

Paul Ryan is giving up one of the most powerful political offices on Earth.

Who is going to succeed him as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? It won’t be U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Clarendon (Texas) Republican who came to the House in 1995 after winning the 13th Congressional District office the previous year.

Thornberry was part of the Contract With America team led by insurgent firebrand Newt Gingrich, who went on to become speaker for a couple of congressional sessions.

A quote is attributed to Thornberry, who came from a Texas Panhandle ranching family, that sums up his interest in the speakership. “I’d rather be a vegetarian,” he reportedly said after John Boehner quit the speakership some years ago.

To be honest, Thornberry strikes me as more of a follower than a leader. Yes, he chairs the House Armed Services Committee (for now). I’m beginning to think there’s an increasing chance someone else will chair that panel when the next Congress convenes in January 2019; that “someone else” well could be a Democrat.

Thornberry has served in the House for 23 years. He is not prone to making himself available to the media for constant Q&A, which is what he would face as speaker of the House. He has been for much of his time on Capitol Hill a classic back bencher.

Would he like to be speaker? This isn’t even a serious question.

But … they’re asking it of the Texas Panhandle Republican anyhow.

How does ‘Speaker Thornberry’ sound?

A ‘wave is coming’

Terry Sullivan, a Republican political strategist who ran Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign had this to say about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to retire from Congress:

“It’s just another illustration of the harbinger of things to come. There’s no Republican who’s optimistic about the November elections. It’s the 300th example that there is a wave coming.”

Is this the Gospel According to Sullivan? Is he all-knowing, all-feeling, all-understanding? Does he know something the rest of us cannot know or can possibly know?

I have no clue.

However, I am beginning to rethink my view of Ryan’s stated reason for leaving the speakership. He said he wants to spend more time with his wife and young children.

Ho … hum.

It is sounding more like a standard dodge than anything that’s actually real.

Ryan became speaker reluctantly after John Boehner quit the House. He said he didn’t want the job and the headaches that came with it. Then he slid into his post as Man of the House. I considered him initially to be somewhat of a grownup.

And then Donald Trump got elected president of the United States. That’s when it all fell apart. Ryan sought to be a good soldier. He considered himself to be loyal to the party. The problem appeared to expand and explode as Trump began to assert himself while trying to learn a thing or two about the process of governing.

It has been a cluster-fudge since the beginning of Trump’s time as president, putting the man who stands third in line to the presidency in the line of fire.

I cannot pretend to know what is in Speaker Ryan’s head and heart. It just strikes me today, just a bit after Ryan’s startling retirement announcement, that he really didn’t want to become speaker.

It now becomes apparent that despite his stated desire to be more of a family man that he just might realize that the speaker’s job didn’t pay him enough to deal daily with the chaos that emanates from the White House.

Yep, Sen. Rubio’s strategist just might be on to something about a “wave coming.”

Speaker Ryan gives it up

I had a glimmer of hope that Paul Ryan could retain some semblance of sanity in the U.S. House of Representatives when he became speaker of the people’s House.

Damn, anyway! It wasn’t meant to be.

I never envisioned that Donald J. Trump would be elected president of the United States in 2016. Nor did I envision that Trump would reshape the Republican Party into an unrecognizable political unit.

So, what does the speaker of the House do? He announced today he won’t seek re-election in his Wisconsin U.S. House district. He’ll walk away from public life at the end of the year to “spend more time” with his family.

I don’t know what is in Ryan’s head and heart. I guess we should accept his public statements about seeking more face time with his children and his wife.

However, there well might be a political element to Ryan’s decision to call it a career.

Trump has managed to mangle the GOP. He has “governed” — and I use that term with great caution — with a recipe that resembles something my grandmothers used to follow. They never measured anything; they just tossed ingredients into a mixing bowl and somehow what came out tasted good!

I always considered Ryan to be a product of a more deliberate governing process. He is a product of Washington, D.C. He ran for vice president in 2012 to help bring some D.C. wisdom to the GOP ticket led by a former governor, Mitt Romney.

He’s going to leave it to the next speaker — whoever the heck that turns out to be. I guess the task will fall on House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — but that presumes that Republicans will retain control of the House after this year’s midterm election.

That prospect is quite suddenly looking a good bit less likely. I suppose, then, that Ryan just couldn’t stand the notion of toiling in a legislative body led by someone such as Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

So, do you suppose that Donald Trump had anything to do with Ryan’s decision to walk away? I believe that’s looking more and more like the case, no matter the outcome of the midterm election.