Tag Archives: bipartisanship

Bipartisan chops serve Biden well

Jeff Flake once served in the U.S. Senate. He is a Republican and reportedly a self-proclaimed proud “conservative” Republican at that.

He is going to support Democrat Joe Biden’s bid to become president of the United States.

Former Sen. Flake is not alone among Republicans who are backing the former vice president in his bid to unseat Donald Trump from the White House.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former House member, spoke at the Democratic National Convention. So did former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. They all are principled Republicans who believe that the president is unfit for office. They want him defeated.

It’s a bit of overstatement to declare that Joe Biden is uniquely qualified by virtue of his many friends on the Republican side of the chasm that splits the parties. Other politicians have been able to reach across the aisle when the need arose. Presidents Bush 41 and 43 did so, as did President Clinton, President Johnson and President Reagan. President Obama had limited success in that regard, but he did have Vice President Biden at his side to pave the way on occasion.

I mention this because it appears to me that Biden well might be able to harvest a good bit of GOP support as he continues his campaign against Donald Trump. We all have noticed occasional cracks in the GOP armor, with Sen. Mitt Romney being openly critical of Trump, as have Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Of course we cannot know how they will vote when the time comes. The Constitution allows Americans to vote in secret. Indeed, I often find it intrusive even to ask a politician how they intend to vote. These decisions ought to be intensely personal.

I remain committed to the notion that good government requires bipartisan compromise and the constant search for common ground. Joe Biden’s lengthy public service career is full of examples of how he has sought commonality with politicians with whom he disagrees. Such a record would serve him — and the nation — well if he becomes president of the United States.

Joe Biden’s bipartisan street cred is beyond dispute, which makes him — among many reasons too numerous to count — preferable to the incumbent in this presidential election.

Why the squabble over GOP support?

I hear that some Democrats are miffed because their virtual presidential nominating committee includes testimonials for Joe Biden from, get ready for it, Republicans.

My answer: Get used to it.

The presumed Democratic presidential nominee is known as a bipartisan kind of guy. He worked across the aisle during his 36 years as a U.S. senator from Delaware. As vice president, he did the same thing, working with Republican legislators on critical fiscal matters.

That the Democratic presidential nominee would welcome the endorsement of Republicans is no surprise. One of his best friends in the Senate was the late John McCain, the Republican Vietnam War hero. McCain was no fan of Donald Trump. The late senator’s wife, Cindy, is going to line up behind her friend Joe Biden’s candidacy.

So has former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former EPA administrator and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Democrats who are grumbling about the infusion of Republicans standing up for the Democratic nominee need to get over themselves.

Their party is on the verge of nominating someone who knows the value of compromise and who uses that concept to further the cause of good government legislation.

The nation needs more of the bipartisan spirit that Joe Biden seeks to bring to the office of president of the United States.

Why the partisan divide over this pandemic?

I am forced to ask: Why in the name of medical prudence does it seem to me that there is a partisan divide between governors’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic?

How is this playing out so far? Most of our 50 states have declared statewide “stay at home” or “shelter in place” mandates. They have been led more or less by Democrats who run those states. The remaining handful of states that haven’t yet issued those declarations all are being governed by Republicans.

What is going on here?

Donald Trump calls for an end to partisanship. He declares his desire to unify the country. Then he does something quite extraordinary.

When the bill that provided $2.2 trillion in economic aid to Americans reached his desk, he didn’t invite a single Democratic member of Congress to witness his bill-signing; the entire congressional delegation gathered in the Oval Office comprised Republicans who, I should add, were not observing “social distancing” practices while watching Trump sign the bill into law.

Here in Texas, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has yet to issue a “stay at home” ruling, although what is happening here is that we are observing a de facto stay at home order. This appears to me to be a function of Republican politicians adhering to the nation’s top GOP politician’s reluctance to be more proactive in his battle against the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, gubernatorial Democrats across the nation are mobilizing their own forces and resources to fight this “war” against an “invisible enemy.” Their reaction appears to be an effort to stick it in Trump’s eye, to enact policies at a statewide level that the president refuses to do at a national level.

A “wartime president” speaks to an entire nation. He unifies us by appealing to our common mission against an enemy of our state. He does not attack politicians from the other party or the media that seek to report on the progress of the government’s mission.

It is my humble view that Donald Trump has overseen an incompetent response to the pandemic. He has delivered messages steeped in confusion and contradiction. He has undermined his own health experts. Trump has denied saying what he entire world heard him say, which is that the pandemic is a “Democrat hoax.”

The nation is full of competent, intelligent and serious Republican governors. Why in the world do they keep standing behind this president, whose categorical incompetence is putting Americans’ lives in danger?

Why not invite Democrats to that bill-signing, Mr. President?

Donald John “The So-Called Unifier in Chief” Trump signed an important bill into law today.

It was the coronavirus pandemic emergency response bill approved by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress. The Senate approved it 96-0; the House approved it by a voice vote, thanks to some procedural maneuvering orchestrated by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But …

Pelosi or other Democrats were nowhere to be found in the Oval Office today as Trump signed the bill into law.

Hasn’t he promised to unify the country? Hasn’t he pledged to work with Democrats as well as Republicans to “make America great again”? I believe the fate of this bill, which Trump supported after at first opposing it (while blaming Democrats, naturally, for wanting to load it up with unnecessary provisions) depended on Democrats as well as Republicans.

Oh, but of course Trump is still enraged at Pelosi because the House speaker engineered the impeachment of the president. That’s his rationale, although he hasn’t said it directly.

This individual’s petulance makes me sick.

McConnell sets no bipartisan example

Yeah, this Twitter message from a former U.S. senator — who once wrote jokes for a living — sums it up for me.

The Senate majority leader is lamenting the absence of a quality about which he seems to know next to nothing. Mitch McConnell is angry about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. He says House Democrats rushed to judgment against the president while impeaching him; then he says he won’t allow any witnesses to testify in the upcoming Senate trial that will determine whether Trump stays in office.

I don’t know whether to laugh or … laugh even more loudly.

McConnell is infamous for the partisan hit job he performed on President Barack Obama after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February 2016. Obama wanted to nominate someone to the SCOTUS to succeed Scalia. McConnell slammed the door shut, saying that the president shouldn’t appoint a justice in an election year that would determine who the next president would be.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS. McConnell denied Garland a hearing. It was a major-league partisan power play. It worked for McConnell, given that Donald Trump won the 2016 election.

Of course, McConnell has kept up his partisan wrangling during the impeachment saga, declaring that he intends to take his cue from Trump’s legal team and that he is “not an impartial juror.”

So, for the majority leader to gripe about Democrats’ alleged partisanship now is as Al Franken has described it.


Friendships honored along with a political icon

They buried a political icon today. I hope they did not bury the spirit of bipartisan friendships that this iconic figure embodied.

Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democratic member of Congress, died the other day of myriad medical complications. He served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and became a leader in the debate over whether to impeach Donald J. Trump.

Cummings was a champion in the first degree. He fought for civil rights and also fought for civil political discourse.

As I listened to the tributes that poured in from across the political spectrum, I was struck by how much attention was paid to the honors paid by Republicans who served with Chairman Cummings. Given the nastiness that has poisoned the atmosphere in Washington over the course of time, it is instructive that so many Republicans would hail their personal affection and professional respect for this fierce Democratic politician.

One of them is Mark Meadows, a North Carolina GOP leader in the U.S. House Freedom Caucus. He is a fierce conservative. Yet he and Cummings were proud of their friendship. Meadows spoke of his love for his colleague while Cummings was lying in state on Capitol Hill — the first African-American politician to be accorded that honor. Former U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina wrote a moving op-ed for the Washington Post that spoke of the Republican’s affection and respect for Cummings.

Indeed, the ranks of strange political bedfellows is long. Former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative Utah Republican, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a liberal Massachusetts Democrat, were famous for their friendship. Yes, there are many such relationships. Yet they flourish outside of the public eye.

When a politician of Cummings’ stature passes from the scene, it enables the nation to witness how these supposedly unlikely friendships have flourished even in the climate that can destroy them.

Elijah Cummings’ death saddens me. I am heartened, though, to see these exhibitions of love and respect that are coming from those with whom this good man had many fierce political battles.

It gives me a glimmer of hope that collegiality and political comity isn’t dead.

Is this alliance all that rare … really?

I continue to be struck by the surprise alliance reportedly formed with conservative Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and liberal Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

They supposedly are preparing to team up on legislation aimed at restricting, possibly eliminating, lawmakers who become corporate lobbyists. The budding Cruz-AOC Alliance has tongues a-wagging in Washington. Why, some folks just cannot believe that these two ferocious partisans could find common ground on anything.

But I guess they have. At least that’s my hope.

It’s not unprecedented by any stretch. Two former senators, liberal Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and the late conservative Republican John McCain of Arizona, teamed up on campaign finance reform measures that sought to put caps on the money raised in political campaigns.

Countless other alliances have been formed since the beginning of the republic. Indeed, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson needed Republican senators to help him enact voting rights and civil rights legislation in the 1960s, given the resistance he was getting from southern Democrats in the U.S. Senate. LBJ was able to parlay his bipartisan friendships into landmark legislation.

I get that there appears to be plenty of skeptics about the Cruz-AOC team. Righties doubt that Ocasio-Cortez will be actually reach out to Cruz and other Republicans; lefties are inherently suspicious of Cruz’s statements expressing support for any idea put forth by a progressive colleague.

What began as a Twitter conversation between these two highly partisan lawmakers well might bear fruit. Or … it could wither and die.

I’m going to hold out hope that Sen. Cruz and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez carry through on their pledge to begin draining the proverbial swamp.

Ted Cruz joins forces with AOC? What the … ?

As my dear ol’ Dad would say: I’ll be dipped in sesame seeds.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a hardline conservative, has joined forces with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an equally hardline progressive, on legislation aimed at banning former members of Congress from joining the lobbying ranks immediately after leaving office.

Who in the world knew?

Cruz put out a Twitter message that declared he actually agrees with an idea that AOC put out there, which is to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists; at least, she said, the new law should require a lengthy waiting period.

I don’t think hell has frozen over, but it might be getting a bit chilly down there nonetheless.

This unlikely partnership demonstrates to me that bipartisanship is not a lost cause on Capitol Hill.

I’ve written often about my dislike for Sen. Cruz. As for AOC, well, she has annoyed me as well, given the undeserved spotlight she is getting as a rookie member of the House of Representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this: “If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around &leverage your service for a lobbyist check. I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period.”

Cruz responded with this: “Here’s something I don’t say often: I agree with @AOC.” He said he has long favored a ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists. He added this via Twitter: “The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for bipartisan cooperation.”

There you have it. Two lawmakers from extreme ends of the political spectrum have reached out, locked arms and decided on something on which they both have found common ground.

Indeed, lobbyists who walk away from the halls of power and begin working directly for corporate employers have built-in advantages over their colleagues/competitors. It ain’t fair, man!

AOC responded that she’s “down” with what Cruz has proposed as long as it doesn’t contain any partisan trickery. Cruz responded, “You’re on.”

This is a small step. It’s still an important one.

Democrats split over impeachment

So, here we are.

Congressional Democrats comprising the fiery left-wingers and the “establishment” wing are at each other’s throats over whether to impeach Donald John Trump.

The firebrands want to impeach the president now. They’ve heard and seen enough to persuade them that Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Thus, it’s time to impeach — in the words of one of the House rookie Democratic bomb throwers — the “motherf*****!”

Oh, but wait. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming the breaks on that move — at least for the moment. She opposes impeachment. Pelosi, one of the experienced hands on Capitol Hill, doesn’t want to go there.

“I’m not for impeachment,” she says.

Pelosi speaks wisely

I happen to agree with Pelosi. Yes, that’s right. Critics of this blog think I am frothing at the mouth to impeach the president. Not true.

I want to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller III to finish his job of investigating whether there was “collusion” between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russian government goons who attacked our electoral system.

Moreover, I also believe Pelosi’s mind can change if Mueller’s report reveals some impeachable nastiness. There’s also the Southern District of New York, the federal judicial district that is looking deeply into possible criminality. The SDNY also needs to finish its work as well before we should determine whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump.

But for now the speaker is speaking wise words of caution. She is a seasoned politician who knows if she has enough bipartisan support to proceed with impeaching the president. She has calculated that she doesn’t have it. Impeaching the president would be a loser for her and House Democrats.

Pelosi is a wise woman.

Just as Republican members of Congress engaged in fights between establishment politicians and TEA Party fanatics, Democrats are engaging in something quite similar at the other end of the big political spectrum.

The GOP establishment had the country’s best interests when it fought with the TEA Party over spending. The Democratic establishment has the upper hand over the issue of impeaching Donald Trump.

But . . . let’s wait.

It’s all about ‘compromise,’ Mr. President; sign the deal

I could swear on a stack of Bibles I heard Donald Trump say the word “compromise” during his State of the Union speech the other evening.

He mentioned it as one of the benchmarks he said he seeks to set as he and Congress look for ways to govern the United States of America.

So, we have a deal to avert a partial government shutdown. The deal contains some money for The Wall, but not the $5.7 billion Trump wanted. It contains some other perks and expenditures to stiffen security along our border.

Trump returned from his campaign rally in El Paso and said he is unhappy with what a bipartisan group of senators and House members cobbled together. He said he needed time to — cough, cough! — “study” the deal that has found its way to the White House.

Effective legislating almost always requires compromise, which means no one gets what they want fully. You have to give a little here and little there and then you come up with something that is mutually acceptable.

I believe that’s what we have in this deal. I wouldn’t consider it perfect, either.

However, it moves us along and gives everyone ample breathing room to consider longer-term repairs to whatever the hell it is that troubles them.

Sign the damn deal, Mr. President! You pledged to work toward a system of government that includes “compromise.” Here’s your chance to prove — for once! — that you’re a man of your word.