Musings and observations as the scary season approaches.
First, an apology — this column won’t delve into Thursday’s red-hot revelations that it was Hillary Clinton and her minions who commissioned Fusion GPS to dummy up and distribute the infamous “Pee Pee dossier” from which most of our recent political horrors surrounding Trump-And-The-Russians have come. I did a quick summation of that on my site, and perhaps I’ll do a more thorough one here in coming days.
Needless to say, this is shocking but not surprising. Long-time American Spectator readers have known the depths of depravity and political treachery of which the Clintons are capable; this publication has spent a quarter century outlining that fact to far less credit than has been deserved. But the more one pulls at the strings emanating from the “Russian collusion” narrative, the worse the results.
Instead, we have other things to touch on this time.
Jeff Flake is joining Bob Corker as a weak Republican incumbent Senator facing an uphill re-election fight and abandoning hope. For Flake, a double-digit polling deficit against Trump-aligned insurgent Republican Dr. Kelli Ward was made worse by an 18 percent approval rating from his constituents. He sought to resuscitate his dying political career by writing a meretricious book on conservatism which did to the title of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative what Robin Thicke did to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” That didn’t work, and neither did any of Flake’s other pratings for the Beltway GOP set. So Thursday, after recognizing that the well-heeled donors Flake had enslaved himself to were no longer willing to bankroll his campaign, he announced in a sanctimonious and forgettable farewell speech that he was throwing in the towel.
What Flake said on the Senate floor, a screed castigating Donald Trump and moaning about the coarseness of our discourse despite being flogged as “historic” by the usual suspects in the Democrat/JournoList mob, was as unremarkable as his career. Much of it may have contained some truth, but then again I’m sure Harvey Weinstein gave a hell of a speech about respect for women at some point. The messenger can certainly pollute the message, and Flake’s minuscule approval rating has nothing to do with Donald Trump — it has a lot more to do with a familiar pattern of campaigning as a principled conservative while governing as something else. People will only put up with being treated as marks for so long, and then they become weary of the exercise.
And no, you don’t get to call yourself a “libertarian” when you vote to continue the Export/Import Bank and give a “yea” to the Cromnibus bill.
This continuing Establishment perfidy is why Trump is in office, after all — something Corker, another Senate dinosaur ripe for the asteroid strike, should take heed of. Corker, who became persona non grata when despite warnings from nearly every quarter within his own party he shepherded the Obama Iran deal to legitimacy, simply will not shut up about Trump and his fitness to hold the office in which he sits. This as Corker, like Flake, has thrown in the electoral towel.
Victor Davis Hanson’s thoughts on this are well worth reading. As Hanson notes, at the end of the day there isn’t all that much difference in ideology between Trumpsters and Never Trumpers. Perhaps a modicum of cooperation might be in order in advance of the 2018 midterms. Seems like that might work better than the never-ending bunco artistry the Republican Beltway crowd has offered for nearly all of this century.
But that cooperation might be difficult given the makeup of the Senate, which is Republican but not conservative — and worse, run by decrepit, addled old men who should have retired long ago. Thad Cochran, the half-dead Mississippian possessing only a sliver of his former faculties, is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, after all; if you’re wondering why the budget the Senate just passed looks more like what the Democrats would have dreamed up, consider the quality of the leadership on offer.
As Daniel Horowitz notes in the piece linked just above, Cochran isn’t the only committee chairman who’s terribly suited to the task…
Go down the roster of Senate committee chairs and you will see that almost every important GOP chair is not only an ineffective counter to the Democrats, they are champions of the liberal cause in their respective issue portfolios. Lamar controls health care and education and he supports federalized health care and education. Lisa Murkowski controls energy and she supports the global warming agenda. John McCain, the man who has championed our failed military endeavors for years, chairs Armed Services. Bob Corker, the champion of the sellout to Iran and Russia, chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. Mike Crapo at Senate Banking has no plans to repeal Dodd-Frank and has championed federal intervention in housing. Pat Roberts will never allow conservative changes to food stamps and agriculture welfare as chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
Oh, and Thad Cochran chairs the committee overseeing the purse strings.
We would all like to see the Republicans on Capitol Hill put aside the preening and sanctimony and work with the president to pass those parts of his agenda Trumpsters and Never Trumpers can agree on. But look at those committee chairmen in the Senate and you’ll see why that’s so difficult. The incumbent protection racket in the Senate is so entrenched and the seniority system is so impermeable that legislation now depends on the vigor of fossils to become law.
This is likely Mitch McConnell’s fault, but then again McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader only because a majority of his colleagues voted for him. If McConnell were to start pulling chairmanships for reasons good and bad it’s likely that would cost him his position. We might all fantasize about a Mike Lee or Ted Cruz taking McConnell’s place; the reality is this Senate would be far more likely to produce a Richard Burr or Rob Portman, or worse, in that seat.
Nevertheless, all is not hopeless on Capitol Hill. After all, on Thursday came news that two congressional investigations the nation desperately needs to see happen will be moving forward.
One will be a joint effort between the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, chaired by Trey Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte, respectively, into the Department of Justice and the FBI and their handling of the Clinton email scandal last year. That has long been the source of irritation for Gowdy, whose cross-examination of former FBI director James Comey last July on the question of the latter’s bizarre interpretation of a federal criminal statue which set a standard of negligence rather than criminal intent as actionable to punish mishandling of classified documents in Hillary Clinton’s favor was so famous. With recent revelations surrounding the case, and with lingering questions about why the FBI strangely took the public lead in initially exonerating Clinton, this is a good opportunity to relitigate the question of just how corrupted the FBI is.
The second investigation will be a tag-team with Gowdy’s committee and the House Intelligence Committee, which will take up the explosive Uranium One matter and all the fun stuff surrounding it…
The two panels, the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees, will first probe whether there was an FBI investigation into the deal, approved when former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) on Monday cited “very, very real concerns about why we would allow a Russian-owned company to get access to 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.”
“It’s important we find out why that deal went through.”
A confidential informant has come forward to the committees, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and the two panels are currently in discussions with the Justice Department to release that individual from a nondisclosure agreement.
The latter investigation is going to be the really fun one. That’s the investigation in which we’re likely to see testimony from this confidential informant client of Victoria Toensing’s who reportedly went undercover to unearth the Russian bribery scheme underlying the Uranium One purchase and has all kinds of juicy information about Russian collusion with a very different party than the Democrat media has been talking about since last year’s election.
One wonders whether they’ll allow tailgating near Capitol Hill in advance of that show.
These investigations may also go some distance toward bolstering Gowdy’s reputation, as many conservatives who would like to consider him a hero have doubts he’s much of a closer. Gowdy’s defenders would note it was his investigation which smoked out the Clinton emails in the first place, but he can’t claim to have landed the big fish in the Benghazi investigation, hamstrung as it was by Clinton and the Obama administration.
Finally, something should be said in this space — in light of last week’s column on toxic femininity — about this atrocious “Rethinking Masculinity” class being offered in Washington so as to enable men to “learn how social constructs of masculinity harm them and the people around them, and work to construct healthier masculinities.” This was described by one of the class’ victims as “It was eight weeks of guys discussing how they can address their actions with better self-awareness and less toxicity.”
Whatever that means.
It’s fair and reasonable to express disgust at males who would put themselves through such a postmodernist meatgrinder as this form of gender re-education. These classes, though, are going on all over the country. Perhaps we shouldn’t blame the victims, however willing they may be.
There will always be some latter-day Elmer Gantry selling self-mutilation as self-help, and as our society declines that mutilation will take on weirder and weirder forms. But in this space we’ll fight the battle a little at a time by noting the toxic femininity, or toxic feminism, if you prefer, where we see it.
And in this bit of stupidity, we see it. Who can miss it?
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons