Tag Archives: Democrats

‘AOC’ makes an immediate impression

There once was a time when rookie members of Congress languished in the shadows. They weren’t to be taken seriously by their colleagues. They weren’t to be held up for praise by their friends or condemnation by their critics.

They needed to learn the location of the restrooms on Capitol Hill. Then they could be taken seriously, or so it used to go.

Then came social media. Rookie members of Congress are able to become immediate superstars.

One of them has rocketed to the top of the public relations totem pole. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly minted Democrat from New York City.

She is so famous, in fact, that she now is being referred to as “AOC.” Yep, she’s up there with JFK, RFK, MLK, LBJ, FDR. This young woman, all of 29 years of age, has held public office for less than one whole month.

Here she is. She is the talk of D.C. She is in huge demand on TV and radio talk shows. She is a self-proclaimed socialist. She wants to tax the wealthy, redistribute wealth around the country; she favors Medicare for All and single-payer health insurance.

Why do you suppose she commands all the attention? Forgive me for mentioning this, but AOC is, shall we say, quite “telegenic,” which is a politically correct way of alluding to her physical attractiveness. Yes, she is well-educated and speaks well, too.

I am inclined — given my own political leaning — to listen to what she has to say. However, I am in serious head-scratching mode about AOC. How in the name of political seniority does a rookie member of Congress such as this one command everyone’s attention?

She has angered not just Republicans but also “establishment” Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thought to be miffed that she occasionally challenges the elders within the Democratic Party.

Her faces shows up as a social media meme. I get these posts on my Facebook news feed from conservative friends who delight in ridiculing her occasional misstatements.

She is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives. I don’t believe she represents a serious threat to establishment politicians of both parties . . . at least not yet. She needs some serious seasoning. AOC needs to get a firmer grasp on how the system works on Capitol Hill.

I am just puzzled at how this young politician has thrust herself onto the center of a large and crowded political stage.

2019 won’t see a return of civility

Civility and Politics Political Cartoon

Only the most naïve Pollyanna who ever lived is going to hold out hope that the new year, the new Congress and the looming presidential election is going to signal a return of political civility.

It ain’t gonna happen, man. You don’t need me to tell you the obvious.

Democrats who took control of the U.S. House of Representatives are loaded for bear. The president of the United States, who has hurled insults the way he might toss pebbles into a pond, has opened himself up to an aura of recrimination. Democrats are in no mood to go easy on Donald Trump. The subpoenas will be flying out of committee chairs’ offices quite soon.

A brand new House member has tossed an f-bomb at Trump, declaring the Democrats’ intent — she says — to impeach him.

The government is partially shut down because Trump wants $5 billion to build The Wall along our southern border. He’s accusing Democrats and the handful of Republicans who oppose The Wall of being for “open borders” and for coddling illegal immigrants at the expense of protecting Americans from the hordes of murderers, rapists, drug dealers and human traffickers he says are pouring into this country.

Is this how you make America great again? Is this how you unify a divided nation? Is this how you reach out to those who voted against you, and in Donald Trump’s case that’s more of them than those who voted for him?

I have tried to hold out a flicker of hope for a return to more civility. That hope is all but extinguished. The flicker has been blown out by all the angry hot air that’s been expelled by politicians who call their opponents “the enemy” or “evil” or any other vicious epithet you can imagine.

My hope once sprang eternal. No more.

How do these politicians rise so quickly?

Call it one of the great mysteries of American political life.

People get elected to a governing body, such as Congress, and some of them — usually just a handful of them — rise immediately to the top of our national attention.

They’re everywhere. They emerge from a crowd of 535 individuals serving in the Senate and the House. They can’t find their way to the restroom, but they sure can find a TV camera and the media attach themselves to these individuals, chronicling their every move, every utterance, everything about them.

And this is before they actually cast any votes!

The Congressional Freshman Class of 2019 is no exception to this rule.

You have the well-known politician, such as Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican. We all know Mitt. He ran for president and was the GOP nominee in 2012. Mitt took office with an established political profile, lots of name ID. He’s already a heavy hitter. He wrote an op-ed criticizing the president and he made fans among Democrats and a collected a few more critics among Republicans. If he were a no-name, no one would have cared what he said about Donald Trump.

Then you have the pol who jumps out of the tall grass and becomes well-known and over-reported for reasons that don’t quite compute. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat, fits that description. She knocked off an establishment Democrat, Rep. Joe Crowley, in the state primary. Then she breezed to election this past fall. She’s a socialist. She wants to levy huge taxes on rich people.

The media report on everything she says and does. She is, to use the phrase, “telegenic,” meaning that she’s attractive. She is young and energetic.

She’s been in office for all of three days and she’s already a star. Why? Beats the bejabbers out me, man.

Oh, and then you have Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who dropped an f-bomb while saying she wants to impeach the president. She, too, has made a name for herself — already! Enough on her, for now.

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz rose quickly to the top of our attention in 2013 when he took office. He took on the posture of an ambitious man who sought higher office. He ran for president in 2016 and was among the last men standing as Donald Trump won the GOP nomination. Again, as with Ocasio-Cortez, I am baffled as to why the Cruz Missile got the publicity he got. But he did.

And so the new Congress begins work. It has its returning “legends in their own minds,” and actual legends. It has its share of those who want to become legendary. Some of them will get there eventually. Some even might actually deserve to attain that lofty status.

Still, we have that great unexplainable: How do some of these individuals manage to insert themselves into every political conversation before they actually do anything?

McConnell now seeks ‘bipartanship’?

Mitch McConnell’s lack of self-awareness takes my breath away.

The U.S. Senate majority leader has penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that demands that congressional Democrats “work with us” instead of putting “partisan politics ahead of country.”

Interesting, yes? You bet it is!

Let’s review part of the record for just a brief moment.

  • McConnell once declared his intention to make Barack H. Obama a “one-term president.” In fact, he said it would be his No. 1 priority while leading the Senate Republican caucus.
  • He has remained shamefully silent about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
  • This is my favorite: McConnell said that he would not allow President Obama to nominate anyone to replace the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He made that proclamation mere hours after Justice Scalia died in Texas. Obama nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia, but McConnell would not allow even a hearing to examine Garland’s exemplary judicial credentials. Obama was in the final full year of the presidency and McConnell gambled — successfully, it turned out — on the hope that a Republican would win the 2016 presidential election.

This Senate Republican leader now accuses Democrats of “playing politics” over The Wall and causing the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Astonishing. I need to catch my breath.

Yep, some of us do care that she swore

I had to look this guy up before offering a comment on what he had to say. Mikel Jollett, I learned, is a musician and author, who is best known as the front man for an indie rock group called Airborne Toxic Event.

Now with that out of the way, I want to declare that I happen to care that a freshman congresswoman swore when she called for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. I do not support the president of the United States; I didn’t vote for what he calls a “racist sexual predator.”

The basis for my caring about Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s foul mouth is two-fold.

First, she is a brand new member of Congress who sought to make a name for herself right out of the chute. Mission accomplished. All she had to say was that she believes Democrats are going to “impeach the motherfu***r.” Washington is all abuzz over what she said.

Second, she could have made precisely that point without using the gutter language. I get that Trump has said all of that. He trash talks with the best of ’em. I am acutely aware of his history, of the language he has used to describe how he treats women. I am aware of the misogynistic nature of his comments.

None of that — zero! — justifies the use of the language that a heretofore virtually unknown rookie member of Congress has used to highlight (or lowlight) what she hopes happens within the halls of Congress.

I do not want the newly empowered Democratic Party congressional caucus to slide into the gutter occupied by Donald Trump and so many members of his “base.”

As for Mikel Jollett — whoever he is — the young man should cease assuming that “nobody cares” that an “incoming congresswoman” swore. He is mistaken.

Is there a ‘woodshed’ in Rep. Tlaib’s future?

Wouldn’t you know it? A rookie member of the U.S. House of Representatives blurts out a profane declaration, about how House Democrats are going to “impeach the mother***er” and fellow Democrats start expressing their anger at this upstart.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has made her mark immediately. It’s not a pretty mark. She was seeking to fire up a crowd of progressive activists when she offered the foul-mouthed pledge to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Democrats getting angry

Other Democrats are upset that Tlaib has overturned their efforts to orchestrate an orderly transition to power in the House, now that they are in the majority. They don’t want to rush into what might turn out to be a foolish act if they seek impeachment before knowing all the facts related to the myriad issues at hand.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to file his report soon on his probe into “The Russia Thing.” Loudmouths like Tlaib are getting way ahead of themselves.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who calls impeachment a “last resort” — might need to escort the young freshman lawmaker to the proverbial “woodshed” for a woman-to-woman chat about how things get done in the People’s House. She ought to rethink her hands-off approach to Democratic caucus members’ fiery rhetoric.

It reminds of a time many years ago when a whipper-snapper U.S. senator named Rick Santorum sought to challenge one of the Senate’s elders about legislating.

The late Sen. Mark Hatfield, an Oregon Republican, chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee. He decided to vote against a defense bill to pay for a new nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Corpus Christi. Why the objection? Hatfield was a deeply religious man and he didn’t like the idea of a weapon of war carrying a name that translated from the Latin means “Body of Christ.” Santorum, a newly elected Republican from Pennsylvania, raised a stink about it and sought to have Hatfield removed from his key committee chairmanship.

One of the GOP Senate elders, Bob Dole of Kansas, took Santorum aside and said, in effect, “Young man, don’t even think about challenging Mark Hatfield.”

Santorum backed off.

There ought to be a similar scolding in Rep. Tlaib’s future as well.

Young Dem rookies getting way ahead of themselves

Hold on, you young’ns who just took office in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yeah, I’m talking to you rookie Democrats who are hollering about impeaching Donald J. Trump. You want to impeach the president already? Before the special counsel, Robert Mueller, releases his findings?

Don’t get ahead of yourself. In fact, listen to your congressional Democratic elders. They know a whole lot more about the process than you do. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shying away from impeachment talk. Yes, she said it’s “possible” that Trump might be indicted, even while he still serves as president. She’s not jumping on the impeach Trump bandwagon now, however.

You see, no matter how y’all are able to cobble together a simple House majority that can impeach the president — for unspecified “high crimes and misdemeanors” — you’ve got this problem in the Senate. Trump would go on trial. A conviction requires a two-thirds vote. That’s 67 out of 100. Spoiler alert: The Republicans still occupy more Senate seats than Democrats. What’s more, impeachment is the most partisan political move that members of Congress can initiate. It isn’t a legal proceeding.

My advice to the House Democratic rookies is to wait for Mueller to finish his work. He’s been digging, scouring, poring over documents, evidence and mountains of other information gleaned from interviews with those close to the president.

It might be that Mueller delivers the goods relating to conspiracy, obstruction of justice, maybe even collusion with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Or . . . he might come up empty.

Wait for the man to finish!

The political divide shows itself in Congress

So much of the commentary I heard today about the incoming U.S. Congress dealt with the dramatic difference in the physical appearance of the two major parties’ caucuses.

House of Representatives Republicans were mostly white, mostly male, a homogeneous group of lawmakers; the same can be said of the Senate GOP caucus.

Then we had the House Democratic caucus. Many more men and women of “color”; there was a Muslim woman dressed in her hijab; indeed, there were many more females than one could see in the GOP side of the House chamber.

Democrats have taken control of the House. Nancy Pelosi is the new speaker. She remains the only woman ever to hold that job; she was speaker from 2007 until 2011.

I am struck by the notion that the Democratic Party resembles the public at large far more than the Republican Party. The term of art is “diversity.” Democrats have a much more “diverse” look than their Republican colleagues.

I also recall after the 2012 presidential election that Republicans who thought that the party nominee Mitt Romney was going to defeat President Obama assembled for what was called a “post mortem” evaluation. They decided that the party needs to do a better job of outreach to women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities.

Based on what we all witnessed today as the new Congress took office, the GOP still has lots of work to do, many miles to travel before it achieves its goal.

It still is remarkable in the extreme that Democrats defeated Republicans in traditionally stalwart GOP congressional districts; such as in Orange County, Calif., which has gone from virtually all Republican to entirely Democratic. Go . . . figure!

I want both major political parties to be more reflective of the nation. Today’s images from Capitol Hill tell me that only one of them has succeeded in that effort.

‘It would make me look foolish’

A statement attributed to Donald Trump screams loudly to us at a couple of levels.

The president said that accepting a deal to reopen the entire federal government from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer would “make me look foolish.”

I’ll set aside the snickering that developed at the idea that the president long ago began looking “foolish” by uttering the things he says and doing the things he does.

The idea of negotiating a deal with House and Senate Democrats is not a “foolish” gesture. Brokering such a deal would be the result of compromise, which is an essential element of good, smart and effective governance.

As I heard Speaker Pelosi today when she took the gavel from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, I thought I heard her say she planned to return a Republican-sponsored and endorsed measure to the Senate; she intends to force senators to vote on a measure they already have approved and which the president pledged initially to sign into law.

You know what happened. When the president made that pledge, which included agreeing to sign a bill that didn’t provide money for The Wall, right-wing talkers went nuts. They accused him of betraying the GOP base. Hearing that, Trump back-pedaled. He reversed himself. He stuck a shiv in the back of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence, both of whom said the president would support the spending bill that passed the Senate by a virtually unanimous vote.

Foolish? Does that make Donald Trump look foolish? Yeah. It does.

The bigger issue is whether he’s willing to wheel and deal with Democrats.

Pelosi said she wants senators to re-endorse the measure they already have backed. The pressure now is on them and on the president.

Negotiation is part of legislating. It’s part of governing. It is the essence of how you move the country forward. Refusing to consider a compromise is the prescription for looking “foolish.”

Trump v. Pelosi: May the better person win

Donald Trump apparently has difficulty with strong, opinionated women. I make that presumption based on how he reacts to their challenges to him. He resorts to insulting them with varying levels of disgusting references.

So it is against that backdrop that the president of the United States is entering a new era in his so-far futile attempt at learning how to govern. The Woman of the House will be Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who is returning to her post as speaker of the House, one half of the legislative branch of the federal government.

I have this sneaking, gnawing suspicion that the president is not going to do well as he battles Pelosi over legislative priorities.

You see, Pelosi is something that her immediate predecessor Paul Ryan is not. She is no patsy who is likely to roll over to demands from (a) the White House and (b) rebellious members of her own partisan caucus. Indeed, Ryan’s predecessor as speaker, John Boehner, quit the speakership and the House because he got fed up with the TEA Party wing of the GOP House caucus.

Pelosi certainly faces her own challenges from the far-left-wing base of her Democratic caucus. Do you think she’s going to knuckle under to its every demand? My gut tells me “no.” She is a stern leader, but one who also knows how to schmooze malcontents.

Trump possesses none of those political skills. He barks insults, makes demands and little happens. He gets on his Twitter feed and fires off policy pronouncements, surprising his own key aides and Cabinet. He calls himself a razzle-dazzle dealmaker, but couldn’t cobble together a deal to keep the government functioning even when he and his Republican Party controlled the entire Congress and the White House.

That’s is changing, effective today.

Nancy Pelosi will take the speaker’s gavel. Democrats will manage the legislative flow from the House. She will do battle when necessary with her GOP House “friends” as well as those who still control matters at the other end of the Capitol Building, the Senate.

Donald Trump will be whipsawed by the back-and-forth in the House.

Checks and balances, anyone?

Here we go!