Tag Archives: Mac Thornberry

Get ready for a blowhard

Based on what I have witnessed from afar and from my extensive knowledge of the man who has represented the 13th Congressional District of Texas since 1995, voters in that part of the world are about to get a whole new brand of congressman.

Dr. Ronny Jackson is the odds-on favorite to succeed Mac Thornberry as the Republican representative for the sprawling West Texas congressional district.

My knowledge of Jackson is limited. I acknowledge the obvious, given that I no longer live in the district. I know that he was born in Levelland, went into the Navy, achieved the rank of rear admiral, became a physician and has served as White House doctor for three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He moved into the13th District when Thornberry announced he wouldn’t seek another term.

What is the difference that will occur? It will arrive in the vocal, more media-hungry style of the new guy. He is going to become a right-wing blowhard, the type of individual who generally annoys the daylights out of me. 

He has popped off, for instance, about mask wearing in light of the global pandemic. He has been dismissive of masks as protection against the killer virus. It’s the kind of baloney we hear from right-wing talking heads and various politicians such as, oh, Rep. Louie Gohmert, the East Texas loon who tested positive for the virus after making a public show of his refusal to wear a mask; Louie is singing a different tune these days.

Thornberry has served the13th District for 25 years. He won election in 1994 as part of the GOP Contract With America Brigade led by fire-breathing Rep. New Gingrich. Thornberry, though, became a quiet back bencher for much of his time in the House. He voted according to the Gingrich world view. He didn’t say much about anything publicly.

Rep. Thornberry was able to parlay his loyal service into the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee, where he served for a couple of terms before Democrats took control of the House in the 2018 election; he now serves — again, quietly — as the panel’s ranking member.

And so, Thornberry will leave at the end of the year. Jackson figures to win election over the Democrats’ sacrificial lamb. I will lay down a bet that Jackson will preen and pose for as long as he can, although some of that might be dictated by whether Donald Trump is still president after Election Day.

Whatever. A new day in congressional representation awaits my friends and former neighbors up yonder in the Texas Panhandle.

Why let an interloper represent the Texas Panhandle in Congress?

I hate what I fear is going to happen to the Texas Panhandle’s 13th Congressional District.

The district’s strong Republican ties are likely to hand the district over to an interloping carpetbagger who doesn’t know the first, second or third thing about the district. But he’s an R and that’s good enough for them.

He is Ronny Jackson, a retired Navy admiral, a physician (and former doc to two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump). He doesn’t know Pantex from Spic ‘n Span, but he’s going to represent the district for at least the next two years after they count the votes in the November election.

I’ll get to the glimmer of good news in just a bit.

I maintain an interest in the 13th District, even though I no longer live there, because my wife and lived there longer than we have anywhere else during our 48 years of married life. The congressman who is leaving Congress, Mac Thornberry, took office the same week I reported for duty at the Amarillo Globe-News in January 1995. So I have told Thornberry that he and I “grew up together” in the Panhandle.

Thornberry, though, has deep roots there, growing up on a ranch in Donley County. So he knows the district he has represented for 25 years … unlike Dr. Jackson — a native of Levelland — who took up residence there only to run for the office he thinks is ripe for the picking. And he’s right.

But … here comes the glimmer of good news.

He won the endorsement of Donald Trump in his primary race. Indeed, Jackson — from all I’ve heard — has spoken only about his close he is to Trump, that he is wedded to the president’s agenda … whatever the hell that is.

The good news? Trump is on course at this moment of losing his bid for re-election. Bigly! He has bungled the presidency at every turn. He has clearly mismanaged the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has sought to divide the nation. Trump spews racist-sounding thoughts.

It is my fondest hope that Joe Biden defeats Trump. If that comes to pass, then what becomes of Dr. Jackson’s main selling point he is using to land a seat in Congress? He likely will be hard-pressed to get the time of day from a Biden administration.

Would that mean it’s one term and then out for the doc?

I just know that my friends in the Texas Panhandle deserve a whole lot better from their congressman than they’re about to receive. At the very least they deserve to be represented by someone who knows the issues relevant to the region.

Get ready for another Texas nut job in Congress

Oh, I hate to say this but it’s got to be said: The Texas Panhandle is likely to send a nut job to Congress to represent them and, ostensibly, their interests.

Thirteenth Congressional District Republicans this week nominated Dr. Ronny Jackson to run for the seat being vacated by longtime GOP U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry. What makes this upcoming contest so fascinating to me — a former 13th District resident — is that Jackson knows next to nothing about the district he likely will be elected to represent. I mean, he’s never lived there … until just in time to run for the House.

Jackson was born in Levelland. He joined the Navy, became a doctor, rose to thank of rear admiral, tended to two U.S. presidents — Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and then retired from the Navy after Trump sought to have him become the secretary of veterans affairs. The nomination didn’t go well. It turns out Jackson has no administrative experience and he also allegedly got caught prescribing drugs in a rather cavalier fashion.

He pulled out of the running for the VA job.  He sought a safe Republican seat and found one in the Texas Panhandle. Thornberry announced he wouldn’t seek a new term and in jumped Admiral/Dr.  Jackson.

He’ll run against the Democrats’ latest sacrificial lamb, Gus Trujillo, who beat a friend of mine, Greg Sagan, in this week’s Democratic runoff.

Now, though, it gets even more interesting. Dr. Jackson says face mask wearing should be an individual choice and has downplayed the importance of face masks in the wake of the COVID crisis that is killing Texans every single day.

I am quite certain that Ronny Jackson’s lunacy quotient doesn’t measure up to that of the guy who nominated him to be VA secretary … but statements like the one he issued about face masks make me wonder.

Texas has elected too many wackos to Congress over the years. The nuttiest of them all is Louie Gohmert, the East Texas birther conspiracist; a close second might be John Ratcliffe, the former Northeast Texas House member who happens to be the current director of national intelligence.

Step aside, gentlemen. You’re about to be joined by a medical doctor/carpetbagger who well could put your wackiness to shame.

Carpetbagging is in style

We made a quick return this past weekend to the Texas Panhandle to see our son and to, oh, just get away from the house for a bit.

Along the drive both ways along U.S. Highway 287 I noticed campaign signs for a single congressional candidate, a guy named Ronny Jackson, who’s running for the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District.

It occurred to me on our drive to Amarillo and then back to the house in Princeton: How did this guy Jackson manage to persuade voters that he knows anything about their needs, their desires, their concerns?

Then it dawned on me: Carpetbagging is in vogue these days.

Jackson has never lived in the 13th CD. He was born in Levelland, which isn’t in the district. He moved away, though, to attend college. He obtained a medical degree. He rose the rank of Navy vice admiral. He served as physician to two presidents: Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Then he got nominated to become Department of Veterans Affairs secretary. Oops! He got into trouble. He had to back out when it became known that Dr. Jackson drank on the job, over-prescribed certain drugs and didn’t have a lick of administrative experience that qualified him to run a monstrous agency such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What does he do then? He runs for Congress in a district being vacated by a longtime Republican House member, Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, who isn’t running for re-election this year.

Jackson is a carpetbagger. He is running against an Amarillo resident, Josh Winegarner of Amarillo, who is not a carpetbagger.

Look, being a stranger to a congressional district or a state while running for public office isn’t new. Robert Kennedy sought a U.S. Senate seat in New York in 1964, with only a passing knowledge of the state; so did Hillary Clinton in 2000; this year we have numerous candidates running for Texas congressional seats who have never lived in those districts.

I don’t have a dog in that fight any longer, as I no longer can vote in the 13th Congressional District. My memory is pretty good, though, and I have trouble understanding how this guy, Ronny Jackson, has positioned himself to possibly be elected this year representing a congressional district about which he knows nothing.

Is this how we define “representative government” these days?

Trump proposes pilfering defense funds to pay for The Wall

I guess Donald John Trump can stop pledging to force Mexico to pay for The Wall he wants to build along the border that separates us from our neighbor.

He now intends to pilfer money appropriated to pay for defense projects to pay for the structure.

What happened to “promises made, promises kept”?

Texas Democrats and Texas Republicans are criticizing a plan to divert $3.8 billion in defense money to pay for The Wall. One of the critics happens to be Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Clarendon Republican who once chaired the House Armed Services Committee. Thornberry, who isn’t running for re-election this year, calls the diversion an inappropriate maneuver.

The money involves assembly of aircraft being built in Texas. They are the F-35 fighter and the V-22 Osprey, the tiltrotor aircraft assembled in Amarillo, which Thornberry represents.

As the Texas Tribune reported: Thornberry … stated that the southern border was a national security challenge that partisanship had “exacerbated,” but he took issue with the executive branch’s decision to reallocate the funds. (H)e said that while the Department of Defense was able to make recommendations in the budgeting process, once appropriations decisions are made, “the Department of Defense cannot change them in pursuit of their own priorities without the approval of Congress.”

Then again, understanding how that process works requires a commander in chief with knowledge or a willingness to learn about the nuts and bolts of the government he was elected to lead.

Trump is too preoccupied with a ridiculous campaign promise — the one about Mexico paying for The Wall — that he never should have made in the first place.

How is the doctor going to campaign for this congressional seat?

Our return over the past few days to the 13th Congressional District exposed us to some TV ads touting the candidacies of those who are running to succeed Rep. Mac Thornberry, who’s leaving office at the end of the year after serving for 25 years representing the Texas Panhandle.

I didn’t hear a TV spot from one guy who’s caught my interest, although I did see some yard signs as we blasted through Claude and Clarendon on our way to Amarillo and then back home to Princeton.

Dr. Ronny Jackson is among the huge number of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. He intrigues me to the max? Why is that?

He’s kind of a national figure. Donald John Trump, the nation’s current president, nominated him to be the nation’s veterans affairs secretary. It turned out, though, to be a bad call on POTUS’s part; Jackson has zero administrative experience and he also allegedly prescribed drugs wrongly. Jackson pulled his name out of consideration as VA secretary.

Now he wants to run for the U.S. House — in a district where he’s never lived. Indeed, the only West Texas connection he has is his place of birth … in Levelland, which sits in a congressional district that is near the 13th.

What does this guy know about Pantex, the nuclear weapons storage complex known colloquially as the “Bomb Factory”? Or how does he comment intelligently about the nitty gritty of the V-22 Osprey aircraft assembly plant in Amarillo? How about federal farm policy, which is vital to cattle ranchers, cotton producers, corn growers throughout the Texas Panhandle?

I am hoping that my GOP friends in the Panhandle will know better than to cast their vote for an individual whose only notable achievement was to be nominated as veterans secretary and to serve as physician to two presidents: Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

Hey, I honor Dr. Jackson’s military service, given that he’s a now-retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. That’s it and that is far from sufficient for anyone to be nominated by a major political party to serve in a congressional district with which he has zero familiarity.

Do not nominate this carpetbagger for a congressional seat

I am about to stick my nose into a political race that, for all intents, is no longer my business, given that I do not live in that congressional district, but here goes anyway.

Thirteenth Congressional District Republicans need to avoid nominating a carpetbagger for the seat being vacated by longtime U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon.

The carpetbagger to whom I refer is Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

He claims a West Texas heritage. He was born in Levelland, just west of Lubbock. Levelland also happens to sit within the 11th Congressional District. Jackson, a retired Navy admiral, has never lived within the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from the Texas Panhandle to the outskirts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He doesn’t know the district, he doesn’t grasp the district’s unique issues.

He rose to notoriety when Trump nominated him to become veterans affairs secretary. The problem, though, was that Dr. Jackson faced accusations of falsifying prescriptions, of abusing his staff and of drinking too much on the job. He was unqualified for the VA post. He withdrew his name from consideration. The president went with someone else and the Department of Veterans Affairs is running just fine.

So what in the world of soft landings is Admiral/Dr. Jackson seeking to do now? He wants to serve in Congress. Why, though, pick this particular seat? I guess it’s because the 13th District is as reliably Republican as any of the 435 House seats.

But Jackson isn’t the guy to succeed Thornberry. Indeed, the GOP field is full of candidates who actually live in the Texas Panhandle and who actually understand the issues of constituents’ concern.

Ronny Jackson? Don’t let him get away with the charade he is playing.

Dr. Carpetbagger set to seek 13th Congressional District seat

What do you know about this?

A fellow who hasn’t lived anywhere near the 13th Congressional District for many years has decided to run for the House of Representatives seat being vacated by an incumbent who’s been there since 1995.

This Republican candidate, though, does have some name recognition. He is Ronny Jackson, a now-retired U.S. Navy physician who once served as personal doctor to two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Jackson wants to succeed Mac Thornberry of Clarendon.

Dr. Jackson is a native of Levelland. However, he has been serving his country for more than two decades in the Navy. He also got tapped by Donald Trump to become veterans secretary. His nomination derailed, though, amid controversy arising from the absence of any administrative experience, not to mention allegations that he abused his staff, overprescribed drugs and drank too much while on the job as the president’s doctor. Jackson pulled out.

So now he wants to serve in Congress.

Jackson joins a crowded GOP field, with 13 other candidates running in the Republican Party. I am left to wonder whether this guy is going to parlay his name ID into a congressional job, representing a congressional district about which he likely knows next to nothing.

What fascinates me is that while he does have West Texas roots, Levelland is in the 11th Congressional District. Has the good doctor ever lived anywhere near the district he now wants to represent? Has he ever attended a grange hall meeting in Claude, or Fritch, or Dumas, or Memphis? What does this fellow know about farm policy, or water conservation, or any of the issues unique to communities such as Amarillo, or Wichita Falls?

The 13th District is spread out a long way, from the Panhandle toward the Metroplex. It is as reliably Republican as any congressional district in this nation. With apologies to my good friend Greg Sagan, who’s running as a Democrat again this year for the seat, it isn’t likely to flip to the other party in 2020.

However, the district’s constituents need to representation from someone who at least knows the issues that are unique to the sprawling region.

Dr. Jackson looks like a carpetbagger to me.

Will ‘Texodus’ cause loss of clout in Congress? Uhh, yes, it will

A headline in the Texas Tribune asks a question that borders on the preposterous.

“As experienced Texan congressmen retire, will the states’ sway in Congress decline?”

I have the answer: Yes. It will decline.

Both congressional chambers rely heavily on seniority. The more senior the members of the House and Senate, the more powerful committee assignments they get. They ascend to chairmanships or, if they’re in the House, they sit as “ranking members” of the minority party; a ranking member is deemed to be the senior member of the party that doesn’t control the chairmanship.

My former congressman, Republican Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, is retiring at the end of next year; he won’t seek re-election to his umpteenth term in the House. He serves as ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, a panel he chaired until Democrats took control of the House after the 2018 election.

Congressional power ebbs and flows. Texans who worry about such things need not fret over Texas’s loss of clout in the House. Indeed, if the state is turning into more of a “swing state,” Texas Democrats might find themselves elevated to positions of power formerly occupied by their Republican colleagues.

For the time being, though, the retirements of six Texas members of Congress does create a dwindling clout for the state on Capitol Hill.

However, it is likely far from a terminal ailment.

‘Inappropriate’ but not ‘impeachable’?

I long have thought that Mac Thornberry was a smart man, even though I have harbored some deep personal — and largely private — objections to many of the public policy positions he has taken.

However, the Clarendon, Texas, Republican member of Congress has, um, inflicted some damage to my longstanding view of his intelligence.

Thornberry went on national TV Sunday and said that it is “inappropriate” for a president to “ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” But … then he said it is not “impeachable.”

Allow me to split a hair or two here.

The term “inappropriate” doesn’t necessarily equal “illegal.” However, presidents can be impeached for “inappropriate” behavior. I happen to believe, though, that Donald Trump broke the law when he sought foreign government help in investigating a political rival, Joe Biden.

I’ll stipulate that I am not a lawyer. Thornberry did earn a law degree from the University of Texas; he has called himself a “recovering lawyer.” However, I have read the Constitution, as I am sure has Thornberry. I interpret the Constitution as declaring that presidents cannot solicit foreign governments for political help. Donald Trump did that very thing in that infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

So, has the president abused the power of his office? Did he commit an actual crime? I believe he has done both things. Abusing of power is impeachable; violating the law, not to mention his oath of office, certainly is impeachable.

That makes it far worse than “inappropriate,” as Thornberry has described it.

My disappointment in Thornberry is palpable. He was my congressman for more than 20 years when my wife and I lived in Amarillo. He took office the same week I arrived in Amarillo to begin my tenure as editorial page editor of the Globe-News. I had a good professional relationship with him and his staff.

He has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2020. What he does after he leaves office is a mystery to me. I wish him well. I only wish he would interpret Donald Trump’s egregious misbehavior differently than what he has expressed.

It’s clearly possible, as Thornberry has demonstrated, that people can reach vastly different conclusions while witnessing the same act. Rep. Thornberry has determined that Trump’s actions were “inappropriate,” but not “impeachable.” I believe Trump broke the law and, therefore, earned an early exit from the White House.