Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 9/15/17
I have never met Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. But I’m friends with people who have and I am told that they are both true gentlemen.
As he made clear as Mitt Romney’s running mate during the 2012 presidential campaign, Ryan is a very smart guy who is knowledgeable to a very deep level on the issues, particularly issues of taxation and the economy. By all accounts he is a genuinely kind and friendly man.
Mitch McConnell is the very picture of a dignified United States senator. In stark contrast to Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, McConnell’s predecessor as leader, McConnell is measured and almost courtly in his statements. He is not given to Harry Reid-style personal attacks. McConnell very obviously reveres the institution in which he serves, particularly its tradition of collegiality.
Both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are good, decent, knowledgeable and fair men. So what’s not to like about them?
The answer is that if they are your neighbors or members of your Sunday school class or coaches of your kid’s soccer team, nothing. But as the top leaders of Congress at a particularly fraught time in our nation’s history, they both leave a lot to be desired.
Leadership comes in all styles. Gen. George Patton was gruff, abrasive and profane. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was quiet and soft spoken. Both were highly effective leaders. But for all their differences, they shared a key trait. They were both uncommonly tough.
Toughness is not an adjective that one would use to describe either of Ryan or McConnell. Yet with respect to leadership in the Congress, toughness has never been more urgently called for.
Senate Democrats under Harry Reid who might have dared to break ranks with President Obama in the way certain Republicans recently broke with President Trump would have been stripped of their committee assignments and consigned to political outer darkness. No such sanction befell any Senate Republican when the Obamacare vote failed.
Paul Ryan is the kind of guy who would be loathe to ruin the vacation plans of his colleagues. So, rather than hold the House in session until work on the debt ceiling and the budget was done, he let the House go on August recess. President Trump was thus forced to deal with the Democrats in order to quickly fund hurricane relief and avoid a government shutdown.
McConnell’s reluctance to do away with the Senate filibuster rule out of reverence for Senate tradition completely ignores the fact that his Democratic colleagues, given the chance, will scrap the filibuster the moment it suits their purpose.
The bottom line is this. These are tough times and we need tough guys. Donald Trump is a tough guy. That’s a big reason he won. Ryan and McConnell are gentlemanly. But they will never be called tough.
That won’t do because the Democrats are not only tough, they’re ruthless.
McConnell and Ryan are therefore miscast and they should both step down.