Tag Archives: Republican National Committee

Can politics intrude on a politician’s day job?

DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, speaks at the Democratic National Committee's Womens Leadership Forum Issues Conference in Washington, DC on September 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

I’ve long wondered something about full-time politicians who take on jobs outside of the job they were elected to do.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Well, she’s my latest example.

Schultz is a Democratic member of Congress who represents southern Florida. She also is chair of the Democratic National Committee.

She’s certainly not the first full-time pol to assume duties unrelated to her congressional work. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole once represented Kansas while serving as chair of the Republican National Committee. Interestingly, he resigned his Senate seat when the GOP nominated him to run for president in 1996; he said he couldn’t do both things at the same time, so he decided to set aside his Senate duties.

Schultz doesn’t do that. No, she runs the Democratic Party while serving her constituents in south Florida.

How well does she do either job, or both?

This issue of running for a higher office while holding down an elected job already has come up during the 2016 presidential campaign. GOP contender Marco Rubio has been criticized for missing many Senate votes while stumping for his party’s nomination. New Jersey Democrats made noise about seeking Gov. Chris Christie’s ouster after Christie declared he wanted to be the Republican nominee this year.

Other members of Congress are seeking the presidency this year. To my knowledge there’s been little said about how well they’re doing their current job while they seek to be elected to another one.

Schultz was re-elected in 2014 by a wide margin, so I guess her constituents think she’s doing all right.

It’s fair to wonder though: How does she deal with purely local issues? How much attention do her constituents get from her — or her staff — when they have concerns about their Social Security or military pension checks?

Schultz has a big job running a major political party. She also has a big job representing her constituents on Capitol Hill; the latter job also pays her $175,000 annually, plus all the ancillary perks she and her colleagues get while serving in Congress.

I occasionally wonder whether politicians who hold down full-time government jobs can do those jobs adequately when other matters divert their attention from the duties they were elected to perform.


Happy birthday, Mr. President

On the occasion of former President George H.W. Bush’s 91st birthday, I feel moved to tell you my George Bush Story.

It’s not all that grand, but it kind of speaks to the issue of: What does one say to someone who’s done so much in his life?

The former president came to Amarillo in 2007 to speak at a symposium about leadership. The event occurred at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts. As editor of the editorial page for the Amarillo Globe-News, I received an invitation to “have lunch with President Bush.” Yes, I know that sounds high-falutin’. I use that phrase to make a little fun of myself, as I was one of about 200 or so “special guests” who broke bread with the 41st president.

He said a few words, thanked all the right people and we all concluded our lunch.

Then came another special moment. I was among some in the lunch crowd who got invited to a picture-taking session with president.

So, the president left the room to prepare for what’s known in the newspaper business as the classic “grip-and-grin” session. We followed him out of the room and then stood in line.

Here’s where a bit of trauma set in: trying to decide what to say to someone who’s done what this man has done over the course of lengthy and incredibly varied public service career.

Think about it. He was a naval aviator during World War II, and was shot down on a combat mission in the Pacific; he served in Congress for two terms, representing the Houston area; he served as chairman of the Republican National Committee; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; head of the CIA; special envoy to China; vice president of the United States; then was elected president of the United States.

Not a bad dossier, correct. Indeed, I’ve said for years that George H.W. Bush arguably was the most qualified man ever to serve as president and commander in chief.

So, what does one way when you shake this man’s hand?

I settled on nothing at all original, witty or memorable.

I merely said, “Mr. President, thank you so much for the service you gave to this country.”

The more interesting element of that 45-second encounter, though, was his response. He bowed his head as he thanked me for the expression of gratitude. He asked me for my name and what I did for a living.

I truly hope he understood I was sincere in saying what I said.

Then it was over. I received a framed picture of “George Bush and me” a couple of weeks later. It’s on my bedroom dresser. I’m proud of it.

Happy birthday, Mr. President.


GOP plans fewer debates in 2016

Even though I generally like to see candidates for high office mix it up in public, I have to applaud the Republican National Committee’s decision to scale back the number of debates its presidential candidates will wage in 2016.

It’s down to just nine of them, about half the number of debates that took place prior to the 2012 GOP convention.

The 2012 GOP primary campaign was an exercise in ridiculousness as the field kept showing up weekly prior to elections in states. The field was winnowed down as candidates dropped out from the previous primary voting.


Even stranger was the stagecraft associated with many of these joint appearances. The candidates would stride onto the stage to applause from the audience, and to shrieks and shouts from their particular fans in the crowd.

They’d wave and point to people they recognize — which always is an odd sort of gesture that politicians do to “connect” with voters.

The GOP is expecting a large field of candidates. RealClearPolitics indicates as many as two dozen Republicans currently are considering a run for the White House. Holy cow! What if all of them declare their candidacies?

The field will narrow quickly, although I’m quite certain it’s going to be a stronger field of contenders than the gaggle of goofballs that ran for the presidency in 2012. Yes, there were serious candidates among the field, but Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann? C’mon.

I’m happy to see the RNC coming to its senses on the number of debates. Now it has to figure out how to lend seriousness and decorum to each of them.

Let’s start by eliminating the show-biz entrance.

Stupidity alive and well in U.S. House

U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., is saying some remarkably stupid things.

The brand new congressman — elected in 2012 in a special election — said he’s asked lawyers “how can I impeach the president.”


Bentivolio told a town hall gathering of local Republicans that the president has committed an unspecified crime likely related to the IRS controversy or the Benghazi tragedy. He’s not laying out any specifics, but says he wants badly to impeach President Obama.

This kind of idiocy from lawmakers elected with an agenda that has nothing to do with helping their constituents makes me sick. I used to think serving in Congress was an honorable calling. Some folks still see it that way — and I include members of both parties in that category.

Lately, though, we’re moronic statements from the likes of Kerry Bentivolio — and let me throw in comments made recently by Republican U.S. Reps. Steve Stockman and Blake Farenthold of good ol’ Texas — who are tossing the “I-word” out as an applause line in front of their fervently faithful followers.

These clowns are a disgrace to an institution that can ill-afford this kind of ridicule.

Rand Paul making sense? Wow!

Someone pinch me. Throw some cold water on my face. Give me a slap. Pass the smelling salts.

I think I just read something regarding Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that actually made sense. Paul, the tea party golden boy and possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said a government shutdown to defund the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea.


He told his pals at Fox News Sunday as much this morning.

I think I’ve just entered a parallel universe.

Paul, of course, is right about the shutdown. His views on “Obamacare” need work. He’s swallowed the argument that the Affordable Care Act is some sort of evil deed perpetrated by the federal government, even though data are showing that its initial impact on the nation actually is proving to be a net positive.

The shutdown notion being pushed by his tea party brethren, though, is what deserves attention. The idea of shutting down the government — and punishing tens of millions of Americans who depend on government to help them get through the day — is an outrageous overreach by zealous partisans who have no clue about what it all means.

I’m glad to see Sen. Paul understand the consequences of what these goofballs are proposing. At least on this issue he is joining the shrinking ranks of sensible Republicans who don’t see the government as their mortal enemy.

RNC marginalizes itself with boycott vote

The Republican National Committee has just voted to marginalize its standing with the broad swath of Americans who will have a say in electing the next president of the United States.

The RNC voted to exclude CNN and NBC News from any 2016 presidential primary debates.


I’m a bit unsure as to how that will work. I suppose if either CNN and NBC proposes to host a debate, none of the candidates will show up. Perhaps the RNC will set up a debate and invite the other networks — CBS, ABC and Fox — to take part.

Whatever the case, the RNC has failed to grasp the difference between news and entertainment.

At issue are a couple of proposed projects involving Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016. CNN is planning to air a film on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state; NBC is hoping to produce a four-part miniseries on HRC. The GOP says the networks are trying to influence voters by portraying Clinton allegedly in a positive light.

Well, no one knows yet how the networks are going to portray her. Nor has anyone grasped publicly the difference — in NBC’s case — the difference between the news operation and the network’s entertainment division. NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd has tried to explain that the entertainment is independent from news and neither has any say in what the other does.

That doesn’t matter, according to the RNC. I suppose the GOP would be just fine with all of this if the networks were planning to broadcast hatchet jobs on Hillary. A “fair and balanced” portrayal of a major American public figure, though, isn’t good enough.

Barbara Bush the Younger ‘endorses’ HRC

Well, that’s a shocker.

Barbara Bush, one of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, has declared that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is “unbelievably qualified” to be president of the United States.

Who knew the Bush family had a closet Democrat in its midst?


Barbara, 31, hopes Clinton runs for the White House in 2016. She did stop short of saying HRC would get her vote were she to take the plunge.

It’s interesting in the extreme, though, to hear the daughter of such a prominent Republican make a glowing statement about a prominent Democrat. That sets up the potential for an interesting tussle within the GOP, which already is turning on itself over disagreements on immigration reform, spending cuts, and a possible government shutdown as it relates to the future of “Obamacare.”

George W. Bush has stayed out of the fray. Good move, Mr. President. Now one of his daughters seems to be taking baby steps back into it with her comments about a possible Democratic presidential candidate who, without doubt, is one of the sworn enemies of the tea party movement within the GOP.

How will the tea party wing react to this virtual endorsement? Will it scold the former president for not “counseling” his daughter sufficiently enough? Might the tea party folks declare unofficial war on the Bush family for being so, so, so “establishment” in its Republican orthodoxy?

The big question might be, how will Democrats handle these glowing words if their party nominates Clinton to be their party’s standard-bearer in the summer of 2016?

My guess: very carefully.