A Trainwreck, And An Exit

[ Posted Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 – 18:03 UTC ]

Poor Donald Trump. It seems fate has pre-empted the media reviews of his first State Of The Union speech with a story about a Republican trainwreck. That has to have annoyed Trump, one assumes. We all know how much he likes seeing people talk about him on television, so seeing the trainwreck story instead certainly must have put a damper on his victory lap.

Now, I don't mean to belittle the accident. One person is dead and many others injured, although it seems that most of the congressmen and their families are going to be OK. But as with any accident involving death or injury, it really isn't a laughing matter. After the train hit the garbage truck, several Republicans with medical training were reported to have leapt to deliver aid, even though the security officers were cautioning them not to. That is selflessness and should be applauded, without regard to their political leanings.

Still, even having said all of that, the irony is pretty obvious. Trump delivers a speech calling on Congress to take action, the Republicans board a train the next day to travel to a retreat to hear more from Trump, and a trainwreck with a garbage truck ensues. I have not seen the news today, but my guess is that the trainwreck is going to be the lead story ("if it bleeds, it leads," right?), and Trump's speech will be treated as an afterthought. Television news just loves big accidents to report on, and I don't expect this one will be any different.

The other (completely unrelated) political story which caught my attention today was the news that Representative Trey Gowdy will not be running for re-election. He becomes, by one count, the 34th GOP House member to make such an announcement, which is an astonishingly high number. He also becomes either the eighth or ninth (depending on how you count them) Republican committee chair to step down, which is even more notable.

Now, I have no love for Gowdy, because personally I find him obnoxious and extremely hard to watch in an interview. His smug sense of righteousness and general all-around smarminess rivals that of Ted Cruz (which is really saying something). To be perfectly blunt (using an old yardstick for measuring a politician's relative honesty), I would not buy a used car from Trey Gowdy. His politicization of the deaths in Benghazi and use of the same as a political weapon against Hillary Clinton will not soon be forgotten. So I certainly won't be sorry to see him go.

Gowdy, unlike several of his other Republican colleagues, is not stepping down due to worries about whether he'll actually be re-elected or not, I should point out. His district is one of the safest and reddest around, so even with an open seat it'd be almost impossible for the Democrats to pick up. Gowdy simply could not have reasonably been worried about losing the election, in other words.

If we take Gowdy at his word, he's quitting Congress in order to get back to working within the justice system. Maybe he's hoping for a judicial appointment from Trump? But one has to wonder if the prospects for the Republican Party in general in this year's midterms might have had something to do with his decision. Many Republicans currently in the House have never experienced being in the minority party. They simply don't know what it is like to wander that particular political wilderness. Being a member of the minority in the House means almost never having any influence over anything that gets done in Washington, after all. It's not like in the Senate where your vote might be courted to break a filibuster. Your power as a House minority member is almost non-existent.

All those Republicans who made it to the House during Republican rule of the chamber may be in for a bit of a shock, to put this another way. If Democrats do manage to take back the House, then Republicans are going to have to learn to live with their minority status for at least two years. This is the prospect that must be weighing on many right now, as they make the decision about whether to seek re-election or not. Those who actually have been around long enough to remember being in the minority will understand the choice more than the newbies -- either go out on top of your game, or learn to live with having much less political power. Of course, those who (unlike Gowdy) live in districts that are actually within reach of Democrats this year have an extra worry on top of all that -- either go out on your own terms, or face the prospect of ending your political career by losing an election to a Democrat.

This is why political wonks pay so much attention to these announcements. Every politician, in public, expresses optimism about their party's chances in the next election. Perhaps it is merely an attempt at positive spin, and perhaps it is true confidence -- either way, they say pretty much the same things. Signing up for a re-election campaign, however, is real commitment, and can't be discounted as just spin.

Republicans are fast approaching having a full 20 percent of their House caucus decide to sit out the 2018 midterms. We are smack in the middle of "filing season" where candidates for office must publicly file the forms necessary to run. These deadlines are spread out (state by state) over the next few months, so some have longer than others to make up their minds. But it's certainly notable how many Republicans are heading for the exits so early in the process.

Maybe they see a trainwreck coming, or something.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


12 Comments on “A Trainwreck, And An Exit”

  1. [1] 
    neilm wrote:

    And the pendulum swings ... I remember when a Republican House was regarded as basically impossible, like a Labour Government during the Thatcher years.


    Will never happen.

    10 years later, there is a Republican House and a Tory Government, and the chances of that changing?


    Will never happen.

    Sometimes it is 5 years, sometimes 15.

    To turn the French cliche on its head, plus ça la même chose, plus c'est change.

  2. [2] 
    neilm wrote:

    "and a Tory Government" -> "and a Labour Government"

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:


    To turn the French cliche on its head, plus ça la même chose, plus c'est change.Quiconque vous dit le contraire est un imbécile.

    Oui... et quiconque vous dit le contraire est un imbécile. :)

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: The other (completely unrelated) political story which caught my attention today was the news that Representative Trey Gowdy will not be running for re-election.

    Gowdy sees the handwriting on the wall because:

    ** Gowdy helped write the memo Trump will release tomorrow that people are referring to as the "Nunes" memo, which makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that Devin Nunes is an ignorant tool. Gowdy refers to it as "my memo":

    "Well, I helped draft it. And I would tell my friends in the FBI, everything I got that went in the memo, I got from you. So, I don’t know why you need to see my memo."

    ** Gowdy was on the Trump transition team of which Bobby Three Sticks has obtained all their emails.

    ** Gowdy is in this up to his neck... as the noose tightens.

  5. [5] 
    Kick wrote:

    Today Mueller filed a JSR pushing Flynn's sentencing for another 90 days. Whoever is convincing Trump that this will "all be over soon" has some 'splaining to do.

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    Interesting take on the blow back the White House probably doesn't even know is coming from the McCabe issue. Basically 45 tried to create FUD about the investigation by personalizing the role of McCabe. Wray took that off the table and put in a guy who has a resume that Republicans would usually swoon over.

    This guy, and thousands more like him, mean that 45 has to serially attack the FBI agent by agent, and the FBI intend to make that very painful - i.e. you attack the FBI at your own peril:

  7. [7] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [6] -

    I almost titled this column "Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind..."



  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    neilm, Kick -

    Michale goes on a cruise and the comments get so good they're now bilingual? Wow... or should I say incroyable!



  9. [9] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    With the exodus of may repubs opening up seats for battle, one has to wonder just how many voter suppression laws and appeals to keep gerrymandered maps we will see.

  10. [10] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    may => many...

  11. [11] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Re: Trump and the Nunes’ memo fiasco

    Jennifer Rubin at the WaPo had a great comment that sums the whole thing up perfectly:

    Trump is making evidence faster than Mueller can investigate it!

  12. [12] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    neilm [7]

    Thank You for posting those tweets from Hoarse Wisperer. One of the best bit of news I have heard in a while. Glad to see the FBI Director standing up for the agency and its mission!

Comments for this article are closed.