Tag Archives: Capitol Hill

McCain tributes remind us of what has gone wrong

As I have watched the various tributes pouring in to honor the memory of U.S. Sen. John McCain, I am reminded of what some folks might say is the obvious.

I am reminded that as the men and women spoke of the late senator’s principled passion that much of the principle has been decimated in the name of partisan passion.

Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke of his “love” for his political adversary. He spoke of a friendship that transcended partisan differences. The Democratic ex-VP talked about how McCain’s devotion to principle superseded his Republican credentials.

Indeed, the same message came from Senate Majority Leader (and fellow Republican) Mitch McConnell, who today echoed much of what Biden said the previous day. McConnell noted that McCain could be your strongest ally or your most ferocious political foe. Indeed, McConnell and McCain had their differences over campaign finance reform — for which McCain fought and McConnell opposed.

What is missing today? The sense that political opponents need not be “enemies.” McCain could be irascible, grouchy, in your face, profane. He assumed all those postures because he believed strongly in whatever principle for which he was fighting.

Almost to a person, those who memorialized Sen. McCain reminded us of how it used to be in Washington and how it could become once again. If only the late senator’s political descendants would follow his lead.

I have been uplifted by the tributes to this American hero and political titan. I also am saddened by the comparison to the political standards he set to what has become of them in the here and now.

Sen. McCain will lie in state where he belongs

John McCain will rank as one of the U.S. Senate’s greatest men. Thus, it is wholly appropriate that he lie in state under the Capitol Rotunda while a nation he served with such distinction pays tribute to him.

The Arizona Republican died Saturday of brain cancer. He declared his intention only a day earlier that he would no longer receive treatment for the disease.

There will be plenty of tributes pouring in to honor this former Vietnam War prisoner, naval aviator and titan of Congress, where he served in both the House and Senate.

I remain deeply saddened that his voice has been stilled forever.

However, I also am proud that he will lie in state in the place where he served with honor for more than three decades.

What happened to the ‘Dog Days of August’?

There used to be a phenomenon in journalism, where newspaper reporters and editors would bemoan the “Dog Days of August. ”

Congress would go on recess, with U.S. senators and House members scattering hither and yon. Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, and the president would go on vacation, hiding away with his wife and kids; maybe enjoying themselves with extended family members and perhaps a few good friends.

News days got slow.

No more, man! Not with this president or this Congress. I want to thank Donald Trump and congressional leadership for providing bloggers such as me and full-time print and broadcast journalists with plenty of grist that will carry us through the era known formerly as the Dog Days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has kept senators on the job through the summer recess. House members have gone about doing whatever it is they when they’re not prowling the Capitol Hill halls of power.

As for the president, he hasn’t let up one bit while he vacations in New Jersey with his wife and son, Barron.

He’s gone after pro football players yet again for protesting police practices against African Americans. He keeps harping on that “witch hunt” that has produced several indictments from the special counsel who’s looking for answers to The Russia Thing. He launched creation of the Space Force, the sixth military branch.

There’s no let-up. We’ll all need to buck ourselves up as we prepare for the home stretch leading toward the highly consequential midterm election.

Let’s all get plenty rest. We’ll need our strength.

Hoping for a big-time flip

This blog has revealed my partisan leaning. I won’t back away from it. I tilt more toward the Democratic Party than to the Republican Party. You know that already.

As such, my hope for the 2018 midterm election is that Congress flips from Republican control to Democratic control.

Why speak to this now, at this moment? They’re electing a new member of Congress tonight in central Ohio. It’s been a strongly GOP district since the 1980s. It was represented once by one of my favorite Republicans, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

It well might flip to the Democrats.

Looking at the bigger picture, I want Democrats to take control of the House and Senate as a check against the goofball who serves as president of the United States, Republican (In Name Only) Donald John Trump.

I call Trump a RINO because he has captured the GOP in a way that I cannot yet fathom. His allies in Congress are providing effective political cover for a man who as near as I can tell adheres to no known Republican ideology. We have a cult of personality at work here and I believe it is important for Democrats to take back at least one congressional chamber to act as a hedge against the goofy pronouncements that pour out of POTUS’s mouth … and from his Twitter account.

Ohio’s 12th Congressional District might provide a harbinger of what could happen later this election year.

I think I’ll watch the returns and hope for what I consider to be the best.

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.