Tag Archives: Orrin Hatch

Hatch’s death saddens me

A strange sense of sadness overtook me this evening as I learned of the death of the longest-serving Republican U.S. senator, Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Why am I so sad? I think it is because Hatch, who left the Senate in 2018, embodied a gentler time in American politics. Did I agree with his policy views? Hah! Not even close! Hardly ever!

However, this conservative lawmaker — whose name appears on hundreds of pieces of legislation that became law — exemplified the ability to work with Democrats. He knew how to find common ground, where to look for it and how to craft it into meaningful legislation.

He said this in his farewell address to the Senate: “The last several years I have seen the abandonment of regular order … Gridlock is the new norm. And like the humidity here, partisanship permeates everything we do, … All the evidence points to an unsettling truth: The Senate, as an institution, is in crisis, or at least may be in crisis.”

Yep, it’s in crisis, all right. It is in crisis because the Senate has turned into a pit of vipers, along with the House, with members of both chambers expressing outright fear of working with members of the other party.

That is nothing close to the “regular order” that Hatch and other senators cherished.

He was a principled conservative, but he was a gentleman, too.

Thus, the sadness at his death.


‘Fickle’ describes Trump and Romney

Please don’t accuse me of being sexist, but ….

I always thought the term “fickle” was used to describe women. You know what I mean. Well, it appears two leading male political figures are rewriting the textbook definition of the word.

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney have said some really harsh things about each other.

Trump has called Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, a “loser” who once “begged” Trump for his endorsement. Trump said Romney would have “gotten on his knees” for the endorsement if the GOP candidate had told him to do so.

Romney, meanwhile, has called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.” He has called the president a pathological liar.

Well, lo and behold! Romney is now running for the U.S. Senate from Utah; Sen. Orrin Hatch is retiring at the end of the year.

What do you suppose was the president’s reaction? He endorsed Romney, saying he will make a “great” U.S. senator.

And Romney? Why, he simply grabbed that endorsement, hugged it tight and thanked the president for the words of affirmation.

How long will this bromance last? Let’s assume Romney gets elected senator from Utah. I think it might endure right up until Romney delivers a harsh Senate floor speech denouncing a preposterous statement coming from Trump.

That, I suppose, presumes that a Sen. Romney hasn’t allowed himself to be emasculated by the GOP Senate leadership that tells him to keep his trap shut when he feels the urge to criticize the president.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised that Trump and Mitt could bury the hatchet. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once called Trump a “cancer on conservatism”; he’s now energy secretary in the Trump administration. And didn’t Housing Secretary Ben Carson call Trump a “liar” when they were running for the GOP nomination in 2016?

Still, time will tell us quite a bit about the fickle nature of the Trump-Romney political relationship.

GOP turns wacky, man!

Just how crazy has the modern Republican Party become?

Get a load of this …

According to an essay in RealClearPolitics, Mitt Romney — the 2012 GOP nominee for president of the United States — is considered an “outlier” should he win election to the U.S. Senate later this year.

You might ask: Why is that?

The Republican Party has become the party of a man who not long ago wasn’t even considered a Republican. I refer to Donald J. Trump, the current president and a man who Mitt Romney has criticized with extreme prejudice.

Romney is considered the odds-on favorite to win the open U.S. Senate in Utah; Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, is bowing out at the end of the year. Romney hasn’t yet announced his candidacy, but virtually everyone thinks he will.

He also was considered to be the epitome of establishment GOP principle. Romney was considered a fiscal and social conservative, a pro-business sort of fellow. He campaigned for president in 2012 calling himself a “severe conservative.”

That might have been enough for doctrinaire Republicans to embrace him.

However, he has taken Donald Trump to task with, um, severe vigor.

In 2016, he called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud.” He delivered his anti-Trump mantra in a 17-minute speech that raised plenty of hackles among the Republican “base” that had endorsed Trump’s presidential candidacy.

And just recently, Romney labeled the president’s description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as “sh**hole countries” as “antithetical to American values.” The RealClearPolitics essay found that fascinating because “most of Trump’s Republican denouncers are either comfortably outside of Congress or on their way out.”

Romney, meanwhile, is likely on his way in, heading for a sure-fire electoral victory in the U.S. Senate contest in Utah.

All of this to my mind paints a picture of a major political party in a state of serious disarray. It has attached itself to an individual, rather than a set of principles.

Thus, I welcome Mitt Romney’s return to public life. My hope is that he continues to remind us that the president really and truly is a “phony” and a “fraud.”

Utah’s loss is nation’s gain

Bye, bye, Sen. Orrin Hatch.

The Utah Republican has announced his plans to retire from the U.S. Senate at the end of this year. He won’t seek re-election to his umpteenth term.

It doesn’t sadden me to see Hatch retire. He’s had his time … and then some, in the Senate. When he was first elected in 1976 he campaigned partly on the notion that senators need not stay too long in the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. I believe 42 years could be construed as “too long.”

I don’t favor term limits, mind you. It’s just that Sen. Hatch has grown old and stale.

Hatch resisted intense pressure from Donald Trump to stay on. He has become one of the president’s staunchest Senate allies.

Now comes the fun part.

Mitt Romney, the guy who called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” is likely to run for the seat Hatch will vacate. I look forward to how Sen. Romney — presuming his election this year — will deal with the “phony and fraudulent” president’s agenda.

Romney — the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee — made sort of nice with Trump when the president-elect was looking for a secretary of state. Romney didn’t get that gig, and has been critical of the president from time to time. Trump’s closest aides don’t trust Romney. Too bad … not!

Romney figures to be the prohibitive favorite to succeed Hatch. I welcome Mitt’s return to public life, notably because he’ll be a bur under Trump’s saddle.

Alabama cedes national attention to … Utah!

Many Americans, including me, were fascinated by the election of a U.S. senator from Alabama.

The election turned out the correct way. It was a big surprise. Democratic nominee Doug Jones won and is now the senator-elect from one of the nation’s strongest Republican-leaning states.

Now we have another state. It’s out west. It’s Utah. Orrin Hatch is the U.S. Senate’s longest-serving Republican … in the history of the Senate! He is considering whether to run for an eighth six-year term. Sen. Hatch, though, does not have the backing of Utah’s largest newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, which named him “Utahn of the Year,” but said he earned the “honor” by demonstrating a new level of crass political ambition. The Tribune wants voters to choose someone else if Hatch decides to run again; the paper, obviously, wants him to retire.

If Hatch does call it quits, it opens the door for Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee and a man considered the odds-on favorite to be elected to the Senate in 2018.

Utah drama shaping up

Why is this so fascinating? I’ll tell you. Hatch is a Donald Trump ally; Mitt Romney is, um, not an ally of the president. Sen. Hatch gave Trump his backing on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act; he stood behind the president on the GOP-authored tax cut.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, calls Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.” He despises the way Trump has lied; he detests the president’s disparaging of individuals and groups.

Would a Sen. Romney be as closely tied to Trump as Sen. Hatch. I would hope not.

I have developed a significant respect for Romney since the 2012 presidential election. He was courageous enough to deliver a blistering speech during the 2016 campaign in which he hung the fraud and phony label on Trump.

Sure, Trump pondered whether to appoint Romney as secretary of state. The men shook hands. They seemed to bury the hatchet.

But my hope would be that Romney would travel down a more independent path than Hatch has trod.

My request of Sen. Hatch? Listen to what the Tribune said about you. Call it a career. As the Tribune noted, Hatch told Utah voters in 1976the year he was elected for crying out loud — that senators shouldn’t stay too long.

Can it be? Mitt is getting back in the game?

I do hope this story pans out.

Sources have revealed that U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate’s longest-tenured Republican, is calling it quits and that his good friend Mitt Romney is going to run for his seat in Utah.

Why is my heart palpitating? Well, Mitt is no friend of Donald John Trump Sr. Neither, it might be noted, is Sen. Hatch. However, Hatch is facing a near-certain GOP primary challenge. He’s decided — allegedly — that he’s had enough of the fun and games in Washington. He’s now 83 years of age. He must lack the staying power and/or the stomach for another political fight.

But how about that Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who’s made three stabs at higher office? He lost to U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, then came up short in two tries for the presidency, losing the 2012 general election to President Obama.

He might have made an even bigger impact on the current political environment, though, with that stunning speech he delivered in 2016 that tore the GOP presidential nominee, Trump, a new one. He called Trump a “fraud,” a “phony” and a whole lot of other pejorative terms.

Then after Trump got elected Romney supposedly was on the president-elect’s short list for secretary of state. He interviewed with Trump in private, came out in front of the cameras, smiled and said all the right things.

But … my gut tells me Mitt isn’t in Trump’s camp.

I’m not at all sure about Mitt’s residency. Does he still live in Massachusetts? Does he maintain a residence in Utah? I guess it doesn’t matter too terribly, given that these residency laws at times can be quite lax and open to broad interpretation. Do you remember the time the late Robert F. Kennedy (in 1964) and then Hillary Rodham Clinton (in 2000) ran for the U.S. Senate from New York, even though neither of them actually lived there at the time they ran for the office?

Whatever. I am glad to see Mitt Romney possibly getting back into the public service game. I just hope he can muster up the guts to keep “telling it like it is” as it regards the president of the United States.

How does state enforce Bathroom Bill?

A friend and former colleagues poses a fascinating and pertinent observation about the Bathroom Bill that is pending in the Texas Legislature.

She writes: “So this bathroom bill thing. They say you will have to go to (the) restroom with the gender you were born. So, if a female changes into a male, he will have to go to women’s restroom. I can see women screaming ‘There’s a man in our bathroom.’ Go ahead and vote for your stupid bill so I can stand and watch all you horrified women when a man walks in.”

The Texas Senate has approved the bill and sent it to the House of Representatives. Indeed, the Legislature is meeting in special session, with the Bathroom Bill on its agenda of work to be completed. Gov. Greg Abbott included this monstrosity of a bill in a lengthy list of issues for the Legislature to ponder.

My friend wonders, as I do, about this bill’s enforceability.

If one is going to complete surgery that changes one’s sexual identity, how does the state enforce this law that requires folks to use restrooms in accordance with the gender noted on his or her birth certificate?

The Houston Chronicle reports that business executives are lining up against this bill: “Eleven additional top business executives, including leaders at iconic Texas firms like Neiman-Marcus and Baker Hughes, have joined the growing chorus of protests to kill the controversial bathroom bill.

“In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, who supports passage of the measure, the corporate officials warn ‘long-term economic harm’ they believe the passage of the ‘discriminatory’  legislation will bring and ask for Abbott’s  ‘leadership in keeping Texas open and welcoming to all.'”

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has lined up against the bill. I’m unsure at this moment how the House is going to act, whether it will follow the speaker’s lead. I’m reminded of how a former Texas House speaker, Democrat Pete Laney of Hale Center, used to operate. He always sought to “let the will of the House” determine the fate of legislation.

Will that be Speaker Straus’s method of operation as the House takes up this issue?

Actually, I still believe this bill discriminates against transgender citizens.

I’ll leave it to a strong conservative U.S. senator, Orrin Hatch, to state what many of us believe. Sen. Hatch, in rejecting Donald Trump’s policy statement by tweet that bans transgender Americans from serving in the military, noted that transgender individuals don’t “choose” to change their sexual identity. “They are born that way,” he said.

The same argument ought to be leveled against this ridiculous legislation that awaits its fate in the Texas Legislature.

Republicans become party of diverse thought

I want to offer a good word or three about today’s Republican Party.

Yes, I’ve been beating them up a good bit of late. The GOP has deserved the drubbing. However, I want to speak to something that became evident after Donald John Trump Sr. tweeted out his decision to ban transgender Americans from serving in the armed forces.

The Republican Party has exhibited a profound sense of diverse thought on that issue.

On one side, we have heard some of the more predictable reactions. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who’s now energy secretary in the Trump administration — said he supports the president “totally” in his decision to ban transgender citizens from service in defense of the nation. Fellow Texan, state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — a fellow not known for thoughtful rhetoric — said the armed forces are “no place for social experimentation.”

Then came the push back from other notable Republican pols. Many members of Congress expressed disappointment and dismay that Trump would use Twitter to announce such a staggering policy shift.

Then came a highly personal statement from U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Utah lawmaker known as one of the Senate’s more conservative members. Transgender individuals do not “choose” to change their sexual identity, Hatch said. “They are born that way,” he added. Sen. Hatch said it is unfair to hold that against them.

The GOP has demonstrated considerable diversity as well in this debate over whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The moderate wing of the Republican caucus dislikes many of the provisions contained in the GOP-authored bill; it cuts too much from Medicaid, for example. The TEA Party/conservative wing of the caucus dislikes the overhaul because it doesn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA, the signature legislation authored by Democrats during the Obama administration.

Democrats, meanwhile, speak with a single voice on those and many other issues. It must be Democrats’ universal disdain for Trump and the fact that he managed to win the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Believe me, I understand their anger on that one!

However, the Republican Party has shown itself to be more willing to expose its differences in the months since Trump became president.

For that, I applaud Republicans.

Oh, and yes, the stalling of the Trump “agenda” — whatever it is — has played a key part in earning my praise.

New folks hogging all the air time

Ted Cruz has done it. So has Tom Cotton. The two Republican senators,  from Texas and Arkansas, respectively, have managed to muscle their way onto our TV screens and into our local newspapers with their actions, even though they’ve been on the job such a short time.

Same with Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. She’s been on the job about two years and she’s everyone’s go-to gal when the subject of Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy comes up.


I posted a blog earlier this week about the late Edward Kennedy’s adherence to Senate tradition, how he didn’t make a floor speech until he’d been in office for a year.


All bets are off these days. The new folks are not bashful at all about hogging up media air time and space.

Cruz is running for president. Cotton drafted that letter to the Iranian mullahs and recommended they reject a nuclear deal worked out by the United States.

Now it’s Warren.

Didn’t she say she “is not a candidate for president” in 2016? Why are the media still digging around the roots of that story?

Is she going to challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary or not? I thought she was declarative in her statement about not running. Oh, wait. She spoke in the present tense. “I am not running,” she said, if memory serves. That means the door is still slightly open for her to change her mind.

These new senators — and House members, too — are overshadowing the senior members.

Republican Orrin Hatch? He’s nowhere to be seen or heard. Democrat Barbara Boxer? She’s announced her impending retirement — and that’s been it. Republican Thad Cochran? He almost lost the GOP primary in Mississippi but got renominated on the strength of African-Americans who didn’t want the other guy to win. Democrat Patty Murray? She’s been as quiet as Hatch.

The new folks keep showing up. They’re everywhere.

The “new normal” in Washington is to let the newbies have the floor.


GOP gangs up on Ted Cruz … good deal!

Ted Cruz keeps trying to rouse the U.S. Senate rabbles with his obstructionism.

But now the freshman Texas Republican lawmaker is finding trouble in a most unlikely place: within his own GOP Senate caucus.


The fiery loudmouth wants to employ procedural trickery to delay the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on attorney general-designate Loretta Lynch’s nomination to take over the Justice Department. Why? Because he just cannot stand the fact that she supports the president’s executive actions on immigration reform. Who knew?

That she would endorse President Obama’s executive authority just isn’t possible, right?

Oh, wait! Lynch is Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general. Gosh, do you think she’s on the same page as the president of the United States on this contentious issue?

None of that matters, of course, to the Cruz Missile.

He’s going to do whatever he can to disrupt, dismiss and just plain dis the president whenever possible.

Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn also opposes Lynch’s nomination, but he doesn’t want to block her confirmation vote from proceeding. Indeed, Lynch already has gathered considerable Republican support for her nomination, including from serious conservatives such as Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Cruz should look at it this way, as well. Every day that Lynch is denied the nomination on the basis of some specious procedural chicanery is a day longer that Eric Holder remains as attorney general. After all, Senate Republicans are known to detest Holder more than they oppose Lynch.

Eric Holder did a good job as attorney general — and Loretta Lynch deserves confirmation and she needs to get to work.