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home : opinions : opinions September 30, 2016

11/29/2013 8:58:00 AM
Commentary: GOP governors' new target: Washington Republicans
By: Byron York

In the aftermath of the government shutdown, it's clear that many of the nation's Republican governors are disgusted by the performance of GOP lawmakers in Congress. But they don't say it in so many words.

Instead, recently meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., at their annual conference, they expressed growing weariness with "Washington, D.C." and declared that if anything good is to happen in politics, it will be done by Republican governors, and not politicians in the nation's capital.

"It's pure insanity, what's coming out of there," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said of Washington.

"Chaos," said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

"Dysfunction," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The new chairman of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey's Chris Christie, joined in, noting an "incredible contrast between what you see being discussed here (at the governors meeting) ... as opposed to what's going on in Washington, D.C."

The governors were quick to note that of course they also mean Democrats when they slam Washington. But there's no doubt the steady barrage of abuse directed at the capital quite specifically includes the leaders of their own party.

"We're criticizing everybody," said Christie. "My feeling has always been that when a Republican deserves criticism, he or she gets it. When a Democrat deserves criticism, he or she gets it."

"It's not that we don't like them personally, it's that we don't like the job they're doing," added Haley.

It's an easy and virtually risk-free attack, given that the target, Congress, has an approval rating in the single digits. But the governors really do view themselves as the only Republican success story going right now. The GOP controls 29 governorships, covering a majority of the American population. They're hoping to make that majority even bigger in a bunch of gubernatorial contests coming in 2014.

But politics being politics, there are also eyes on 2016. And all the Washington-bashing sends a clear message about the upcoming presidential race. Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rep. Paul Ryan, along with other Washington lawmakers, are all fine fellows, but the governors want to see a chief executive become the Republican nominee for the White House.

"It's the right experience for being president," said North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

"Governors are better suited to be in the White House," said Utah's Gary Herbert. "We're executive branch people. We actually have to do things."

"I always prefer governors," said Haley, whose state holds an early GOP primary. And so, not incidentally, does Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, whose state starts the presidential voting.

"Being governor is the closest job in the United States to being president," added Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor whose counsel is widely sought among Republican politicos. "Most of us who've been governors think governors make better presidents, and President Obama is doing everything he can to prove us right."

Just about the only governors who demur on the question of whether a governor should be the Republican nominee are the governors who actually want to be the Republican nominee. Christie declined to answer the question, arguing that given the work ahead in 2014, Republicans "start thinking about 2016 at our own peril." Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is mulling a second shot at the nomination, also declined to answer, other than to repeat his old hope of making Washington "as inconsequential as possible" in American life.

Meanwhile, the denouncing of Washington goes on. Governors who once served in Congress -- Ohio's John Kasich, Indiana's Mike Pence, Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, Jindal, and several others -- all said they are glad to be gone from Washington.

"I don't quite know what's happened in Washington from the time I was there, when we actually could get some things done," said Kasich, who served in the House from 1983 to 2001. "But it's pretty bad."

Pence, who served from 2001 to January 2013, joked that if he only had a few years to live, he would choose to live them in Washington, because his time in the nation's capital felt like the longest of his life.

Yes, all the talk helps the governors portray themselves as Republican good guys. But it also highlights a growing breach inside the GOP: Congress versus everybody else. Republicans who can distance themselves from the unpopular Congress are taking every opportunity to do so. And those lawmakers who want to run for president could find very little support in the nation's statehouses.

(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

I thought that was skepticism, Mr. F. But whatever, the cure is not eliminating political processes. The cure is finding and electing responsible, diligent, and clear-headed representatives. Which--especially when an office disgraces itself to the point no one qualified wants to run for it--is an extremely political process.

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Article comment by: @ ibS

Cynicism is a means of recognizing and acknowledging the failures of Reason and Logic and the victories of, "...self-serving ambition, sloppy research, and foggy thinking," Mr. ibS.


Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Oh come on, Mr. F. Bad policy and ill-considered intervention are the direct result of self-serving ambition, sloppy research, and foggy thinking.

I give you the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School Board as a case in point. The results of the 2013 override haven't been certified, but already it's yapping about a Building & Maintenance bond for the 2014 ballot because C-OCSD over-sold, then over-enrolled MVP and wants to get on with "building out" the Tavasci campus before area residents have recovered from the recession and overall district enrollment warrants it.

That's not politics. That's just self-serving ambition, sloppy research, and foggy thinking. The politics will start when Partners In Education gets out and twists arms "for our children" again.

Believe me, I'd be as cynical as you are, Mr. F, if cynicism had ever kept bureaucrats from intimidating single mothers and dipping into the widow's mite.

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013
Article comment by: @ nutso

I do not disagree with much of what you say, but, if you think that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gates, and Roberts did not, "...use the FISA Court to force their paranoia on the Intelligence community" after 9/11.," then, my property offer stands.

One from W's cadre still call for war with Syria as the preferred course of action.

BTW, Obama has more than disappointed on many levels.

Merry Christmas.

Posted: Monday, December 23, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

I see an equivalence between offering beachfront Clarkdale property and claiming that Bush and Cheney began to "use the FISA Court to force their paranoia on the Intelligence community" after 9/11. The intelligence community had plenty of cause for paranoia when their failings became news.

Increased use of the FISC resulted from expanded intelligence-gathering authorized by Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Use of the FISC declined when passage of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (H.R.6304) reduced NSA's abuse of the FISC by allowing them to bypass the court process altogether.

Obama, who had argued eloquently but futilely against renewal of Section 215 in 2006, voted for H.R.6304 in 2008. As a potential President his priorities had changed.

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: @ itsy

Coarsely, I believe our elections are nothing more than popularity polls. The ignorance of the general electorate is stunning.

I said, "Politics encourages dysfunction," you observed, "...that's poppycock,'' then followed that saying, "It's bad policy and ill-considered intervention that encourages dysfunction.

Are not both the direct result of politics?


Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: @ Cassandra of Yavapai

Truman grew to rue the day he helped create the CIA once he saw the monster loosed.


20-20 hindsight still works.


Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

I hear you, Mr. F. None of the national figures currently being fielded inspire me, either.

But perhaps people who intend to vote should be more proactive.

Remember, Teddy Roosevelt probably wouldn't have been a presidential candidate if he hadn't already been president in 1904. His success and popularity as governor of New York got him the VP slot on the 1900 ticket, but New York couldn't get a native son presidential reform candidate past the party bosses, who hated him. The time for thinking Republicans and thinking Democrats to weigh in on national nominations is now. Support, even champion, possibilities party honchos wouldn't otherwise consider, or hold your peace come 2016. This is far more important than sniping at the putative opposition at this point.

Without legitimate candidates on both tickets--candidates who can articulate and implement what they truly espouse--democratic elections are no more legitimate than a VI opinion poll.

Re "Politics encourages dysfunction," however--that's poppycock. Politics is simply a process of attaining social ends without physical violence. Good governance uses political means to create a framework within which all members of society can and do function effectively. Without politics, even George Washington would have to call up the army to ratify a constitution or amendment thereto.

It's bad policy and ill-considered intervention that encourages dysfunction.

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ PF

So you're saying that minor "mere footnote" agencies and procedures initiated in one administration can facilitate major "headline" abuses in subsequent administrations?

I'll drink to that. It's what opponents of minor, seemingly progressive election reforms keep trying to tell voters who think tearing the gates down will just make voting easier for them.

Cassandra of Yavapai

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Article comment by: It seems to me:

When I was studying American History, Theodore Roosevelt was described as a Populist-leaning Republican because his "trust-busting" was a conservative version of a major Populist Party plank and he favored some Populist social and political reforms. He called his third party attempt "The Progressivist Party" because he wasn't a Populist with a capital P and progressivism was associated with progress back then.

Woodrow Wilson was heavily invested in academic Progressivism before he entered politics, became a Populist Progressive Democrat (income tax, labor regulations, more anti-trust, the federal reserve), and advocated the New World Order (the League of Nations).

Franklin Roosevelt was simply a Democrat who implemented Populist farm aid and federal employment on public works measures. Social Security was a German import neither the Populists or the Progressives had thought of.

Now all three are scions of the Progressivist Movement and the GOP is beating the Populist drum.

So much for labels, political or otherwise.

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ nutso

That is all very nice, but, I read that, since FISA was established in 1978, we've had three chief justices, and they have all been conservative Republicans. (Wikipedia)

Also, establishing FISA, 'Congress also was responding to the Supreme Courtís suggestion in a 1972 case that under the Fourth Amendment some kind of judicial warrant might be required to conduct national security related investigations.'

As far as I can find, Snowden would have had nothing to expose until after 2001.

If you don't believe the right-wing hawks, led by Bush and Cheney after 911, abetted by their right-wing judicial appointees, didn't start to use the FISA Court to force their paranoia on the Intelligence community, I've got some beachfront property in Clarkdale I'll make you a hell of a deal on.

IMO, dem participation is a mere footnote to the History of FISA.

You try to make it the Headline.


Let's change the subject to something more pleasant, like Drone strikes.


Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Article comment by: @ itsy

Politics encourages dysfunction. Always has, always will, as long as there are disparate opinions.

I cannot think of any administration free from dysfunction. Maybe pre-1945, but, I doubt it.

I do not have a particular candidate at the moment I find interesting.

Let's see who is presented in 2014, or so.

Not trying to dodge your question, just not enamored of any particular person now.

Except for the fact that I would probably execute some select opponents, I am pretty sure I'd make a good prez.


Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

Dear pf,

Though it may get tiresome, swatting down gnats of disinformation is never a strain.

The only straining I see here is the use of hokey metaphors and irrelevant Bush-bashing in a futile attempt to discredit simple statements of truth.

Speaking of simple statements of truth, Here's another:
The FISA court was established by Congress in 1978, when Dems held a 61-38 majority in the Senate and a 292-143 majority in the House over Repubs. It's establishment was part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act signed into law by President Carter.

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

You mean beside the fact many FDR Administration policies encouraged dysfunction and opened new doors for corruption, Mr. F?

However, within the confines of Byron York's commentary--yes, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both demonstrated solid ability to lead and to administrate before running for federal office. Both could discern, attract, and control a highly-skilled and effective cabinet. Both challenged the shibboleths of their party's reigning aristocracy and won popular support through their direct, hands-on communication skills. I'll concede the difference between a Square Deal and a New Deal becomes relevant only after basic qualifications for executive office have been met.

Mainly because I truly am interested in who you'd like to win the 2016 primaries.

Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013
Article comment by: M J

PolitiFact on named President O's (as in zero)
"If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" promise the....
Drum roll please.....

Lie of the Year


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