When Republican Plans Go Awry
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When Republican Plans Go Awry

Party Stalwarts Come Clean With a Rash of Turnabouts, Walkbacks and Just Plain Bad Timing

No matter what they say to defend their positions at first, apparently Washington pols can’t help themselves eventually from coming clean(ish) about their true intentions. That is, they may never own up to the facts, but in their zeal, they do seem to want to show off just how much they were going to help us.

Still, I have some trouble feeling good about the turnabouts; without relying on, say, facts, it is too easy for opinions to continue to switch. In any case, the results are at once absurd and terrible for, say, truth-telling.

Here are some examples from this week:

  • Trump tweeted his real meaning for the House Republican memo. Despite all the Republican hand-wringing about the memo focus on a narrow “oversight” look at Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications by the FBI, Trump made clear the real reason for declassifying the information and publishing the memo was to undercut the validity of the Special Counsel’s investigation of Trump, the Trump campaign and Russian links. His tweet, in which he declared himself (in the third person) totally vindicated in the Russia inquiry, exposed self-serving lies offered up in defense of the memo by Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican House members. For what it is worth, the memo, a poorly done affair, is silent about most aspects of the Russia investigation, and it certainly does not “vindicate” the president or anyone else. Of course, on the one issue that we wanted to hear the president speak–whether he will now fire Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein over the memo’s findings, the president just offered a “You figure it out” statement.
  • Meanwhile, Devin Nunes(R-Calif.), alleged author of the memo, confirmed that he never read the underlying classified materials about the FISA applications. It figures. He also continued to avoid answering the question of whether White House staffers had worked with his aides to create the memo. Meanwhile, the guy assigned to read the documents, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said there was nothing in it to discredit the Special Counsel probe. Just for nothing, back in Fresno, Calif., Andrew Janz, the announced Democratic opponent to Nunes, said donations suddenly are flowing into his campaign in the Central California district. So, maybe the memo eventually will create a good outcome.
  • Over the weekend, Speaker Ryan tweeted and then withdrew the tweet that highlighted the Tax Cuts happiness that a Pennsylvania secretary felt when she saw her paycheck this week–up a total $1.50. Over a year, Ryan said, she could pay her Costco membership! Then the tweet disappeared, perhaps because someone pointed out to him how absurd it sounded, though the comment gates on social media opened up in widespread ridicule for him. Ryan said nothing, of course, but the withdrawal spoke volumes about the silly claims that middle-class taxpayers were benefitting in substantial ways from a tax bill aimed at cutting corporate taxes and tax on the rich. Ryan and other Republicans continue to beat up on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for calling such middle-class result “crumbs.”
  • The White House now plans to withdraw its controversial nomination of Kathleen Hartnett-White to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, Huffington Post and The Washington Post confirmed. Hartnett-White, a former Texas regulator, got through the confirmation process last year with only Republican votes despite her denial of climate change, statements that linked coal with abolishing slavery by eliminating the economic incentive for slavery, and a total disregard for science. Even Republican senators were raising questions about her basic understanding of science. The White House confirmed it was withdrawing her name saying she was having too much trouble gaining Senate confirmation.
  • The president remained silent about it, but black unemployment headed back up in Friday’s release of monthly jobs figures. After repeated cheerleading for “the lowest percentage of black unemployment in the recorded history of unemployment figures,” Trump had nothing to say about the jobless rate among blacks rising from 6.2% to 7.7% in a single month. He also had been silent about the rate consistently falling since 2010 when it hit a high of 16.2%. Of course, he also remained silent about a stock market drop by more than one percent of total market value.
  • FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, either is or isn’t leaving Puerto Rico, where half the island remains without electricity. Last week, FEMA made clear that the island had enough supplies. The next day, FEMA said it wasn’t leaving or handling supplies, but Hector Pesquera, Puerto Rico’s secretary of public safety and state coordinating officer, said FEMA had notified him that there would be no more. “We were not informed that supplies would stop arriving, nor did the government of Puerto Rico agree with this action,” he said. Over the weekend, Gov. Ricardo Rosello joined New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in the Bronx to call on Congress to pass the full $94 million aid package requested rather than a bill worth less than half of that. It’s time for a little honesty here in saying that Washington just doesn’t want to pay up, if that’s how they feel.

Those are my opinions. And I’m sticking to them.

February 5, 2018