Last chance for GOP members of Congress to show leadership?

Sources inside Republican Congressional offices say response back in home districts and states may decide how to deal with troublesome president Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior that ramps up racism, nationalism and hate.

House members want to hear from constituents in open meetings and forums in their home districts while Senators are commissioning polls to sample statewide public opinion on Trump’s behavior.

“Obviously, something must be one,” says one senior staff member of a Republican senator, “but we must tread carefully and make sure we have the support of our constituents.”

“The silence of Republican leaders appeared to suggest either that they agreed with the views expressed by their standard-bearer or that he has so effectively consolidated his control over their party that they have grown disinclined to voice dissent,” writes Isaac Stanley-Becker in The Washington Post.

While some Republicans (11 so far) are speaking out about Trump’s controversial statements, most hide from the public and stay silent.

Democrats have denounced Trump and so have leaders around the world but no member of the president’s Cabinet has said a word in criticism.

Most GOP members of Congress who have called out Trump for his racism are now ex-members, including former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who called one of Trump’s racist comments “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

Former Republican Senator Bob Corker, once considered for a Cabinet post by Trump, later said: “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence fo demonstrate in order to be successful.”

That comment sent Corker’s poll numbers down in Tennessee and he retired.

Notes Amber Phillips in the Post:

Seeing a theme here? Republicans who have spoken out forcefully and memorably about Trump are no longer Republican officeholders. It is overly simplistic to say these Republicans retired because of their battles with Trump — though in Ryan’s case, a new book suggests that might be true. But all of them saw the writing on the wall: I can either speak out about Trump, or keep my job. In this Republican Party, you can’t do both.

This is why GOP Senators and Representatives want to listen to constituents back home over the August recess.

Some are still willing to speak out.

Fred Upton of Michigan said what Trump said is “really uncalled for, very disappointing.”  Paul Mitchell of Michigan said “these comments are beneath leaders.”

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said Trump “was wrong to say any American Citizen, whether in Congress or note, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S.” but then tempered his criticism with praise for the president’s immigration antics.

“That’s the way Trump has engineered the Republican Party, to be able to get away with whatever he wants to say,” adds Amber Phillips.  “And it’s working.”

In the end, the decision of whether Trump stays or goes, rests with the voters.

Perhaps enough of them will confront their Representatives or their Senators over the August recess and convince them to be leaders.

Or we may have to wait until November of next year to see if the voters can retake control of what little is left of the country that a tyrant named Trump is destroying.

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Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

New book details an obscenity-shouting, unhinged Trump

Trump made clear he could not provide moral leadership for the nation. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Cliff Sims, former White Communications aide, saw Donald Trump up close during his time in the West Wing and is now telling the world about America’s unhinged president.

Sims new book, Team of Vipers, goes on sale next week, It contains passages that describe:

President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control “like a pistol” and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone.

“Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your ass for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’ ” Trump told Ryan, then a Wisconsin congressman. “Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She’s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her . . . Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?”

The tormenting continued. Trump recalled Ryan distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the days after the “Access Hollywood” video in which he bragged of fondling women first surfaced in The Washington Post.
“I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your ass.”

–Reported by Philip Rucker of The Washington Post

Sims considers himself “a true believer in Trump” but tells stories of a president with “expletive-filled scenes of chaos, dysfunction and duplicity.”

“It’s impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff — again myself included — was at times,” he writes. He details a Keystone Kops comedy scene on Trump’s first day in office with the new president obsessed with news coverage on how small the crowd appeared at his inauguration.

At Trump’s direction, then press secretary Sean Spicer dictated a response with “a torrent of expletives with a few salient points scattered in between.”

Trump, Sim writes, sent Spicer before the press with a statement where nobody checked the facts. Spicer walked ‘into an execution,” he notes.

Trump, Sims says, drew up an “enemies list” of his own staff. “We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom feeders,” Trump said.

Sims calls Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway “the American Sniper of West Wing marksmen” and wrote that her goal is “surivval over all others, including the president.”

Sims describes the 11-day tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director as a “fire-breathing dragon that has just returned from laying waste to the unsuspecting peasants in the village.”

Even Trump thought Scaramucci was a too far out. Sims quoted Trump as saying:

Can you believe this guy? He’s completely out of his mind — like on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We’ll figure it out, but this guy is crazy.


Copyright © 2019 Capitol Hill Blue

Republican death panel minus one for 2019

Image linkDonkeyHotey’s art (above) is a combination of caricature, photo collage and photo manipulation. She publishes under Creative Commons on Flickr. She calls this image “Republican death panel,” thus she inspired the title for this column.

Ring in the new year, or more precisely, bang the gavel for the Democrats in 2019. Finally the House of Representatives is controlled by the majority of the people with Democrats having overcome Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression to win and usher in a freshman class that actually looks like America, and compared side-by-side here is in stark contrast to the face of the GOP freshman.  Needless to say this is an image the Republicans ought to be ashamed of, but more troubling to them it should scare them shirtless, so to speak, since as demographics catch up with them they will be going into more and more elections sans their shirts.

As the Democrats celebrate their wins and the country hopes they can live up to the promise that they will rid this land of the scourge that is Trumpism, let’s not forget who has self-exiled himself from the House where had he stayed he would have suffered the humiliation of being demoted to mere minority leader and with further humiliation, where he’d have to watch Nancy Pelosi wield that huge gavel.

Paul Ryan, who at a mere 48 years of age, embarrassed himself by using the classic rationale for pushing his way to the lifeboat of a sinking ship: “If I am here for one more term, my kids will only ever have known me as a weekend dad. I can’t let that happen”

Ryan told reporters the prospect of Democrats taking the House majority in November had no bearing “whatsoever” on his decision not to run. He also believes his retirement will not have an effect on Republicans’ ability to keep their seats.

“I really don’t think a person’s race for Congress is going to hinge on whether Paul Ryan’s speaker or not,” he said.

Ryan argued that the GOP has a “great record” and “great economy” on which to run. Republicans have used the tax plan as one of their main arguments for why they should hold the House, though it is not clear the policy has resonated with voters.

The House speaker said he knew holding the position would be “fleeting,” and added he did not want to let it take over his life. CNBC “Ryan Explains why he retired.”

Liar, liar, life vest on fire, Mr. Ryan. You are retiring for two reasons. One, you can’t stand losing power. Two, you can’t stand making excuses for Donald Trump who you know is an ignorant lunatic. Even when you decided not to run again, you had to know there was a good chance that if you stayed on you’d be watching Trump being impeached and you’d be helpless to stop it.

Now he must be relieved as he considers the wisdom of this. Every day he sees that it is more and more likely Trump will be impeached, thus reinforcing that he made the right decision for himself. The new House minority leader, hapless Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, will have to sit helplessly on the sidelines and Ryan will be at home with wife Janna and their three children.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

House Speaker Paul Ryan says ‘no’ to another term

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will not seek re-election this fall, leaving Republicans in panic mode as it quickly triggered another GOP desertion and is expected to bring more as his party scrambles to hold on to its majority.

Ryan says he is leaving at the end of 20 years in Congress. An hour later, Rep. Dennis Moss of Florida announced his retirement.

The Speaker’s retirement caught Republicans by surprise and came just after a donor retreat in Texas where participants felt confident he would remain in his Congressional seat and the Speakership.

He said he wants to spend more time with his children, noting that his daughter was 13 when he became speaker.

“The truth is, it is easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can’t just let that happen because there are other things in life that can be fleeting as well: Namely your time as a husband and father< Ryan said.

Some feel Ryan is getting out of Congress before Republicans lose control of the House and he does not want to keep fighting bombastic President Donald Trump and having to come up with new excuses for his behavior.

“We can all read between the lines,” said moderate Republican Rep. Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania. “This is not an easy administration to be dealing with.”

Ryan dismissed suggestions that he is leaving because he sees a bleak future.

“If we do our job, as we are, we are doing to be fine as a majority,” he claimed.

Ryan joins a growing list of more than 40 other House Republicans have announced they are leaving to retire or seek other offices.

Former Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi tempered her praise for Ryan.

“The Speaker has been an avid advocate for his point of view and the people of his district. Despite our differences, I commend his steadfast commitment to our country,” she said.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged Ryan to use his remaining time for work towards bipartisanship in the House. He added:

With his newfound political freedom, I hope the Speaker uses his remaining time in Congress to break free from the hard-right factions of his caucus that have kept Congress from getting real things done. If he’s willing to reach across the aisle, he’ll find Democrats willing and eager to work with him.

Ryan said he made the decision over a spring vacation to Austria during the congressional recess. As Speaker he found himself sandwiched between the GOP hard right and mainstream Republicans along with the controversial and ever-changing president who has turned to using tariffs to spark a trade war that the Speaker opposes and feels is a violation of the free market.

He told his staff early this morning that he could not “in good conscience” commit to serving a another two years in Congress.

The Speaker’s retirement leaves some Republicans scrambling to situate themselves as a potential speaker if Republicans manage to hold onto their tenuous majority.  Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is considered and early front-runner.  Scalise was seriously insured by the gunman who  opened fire on practice for the Congressional baseball game in June 2017 and returned to Congress in September to applause and resume his duties as Majority Whip.

“This is the nightmare scenario,” former Virginia Republican Representative Thomas Davis told The New York Times.  “Everybody figured he’s just hang in there till after the election.”

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue