Not an ordinary word that. Certainly not one you’d usually find in a headline. But, it can perfectly describe your mental state when considering Republicans in the U.S. Senate.
Since the start of the Trump “era,” the men and women of the GOP in that body have been door mats for the demon in the White House. They’ve laid there on the floor while Trump’s walked all over ‘em.
With Mitch McConnell’s able assistance, using the whip hand of his majority numbers, the 53 remaining Republicans have been silent servants to Trump’s “bull-in-the-china-shop” rants and actions over the past four years. To a man. To a woman.
Let’s just consider one of that body: Jim Elroy Risch of Idaho.
I’ve known Risch for more than 50 years. First covered him in the Idaho Legislature in the ‘70’s. Risch has had the reputation of being a tough guy, a political climber, a pusher, a guy who’d run over resistance like a tank on the battlefield. Behind his back – most often – he was called “the little Nazi.” Not quite an apt description of his operating style. But close.
Earlier this month, Risch was re-elected to the U.S. Senate. A new voter-approved contract that was never in doubt. He’s been there since 2009. Now, he’s got six more years of assured employment at the federal trough. Given his age- he’d be around 83 six years hence – this trip is likely his “last hurrah.” One can hope.
Risch hasn’t garnered much publicity during his elevated service. Which is sort of odd since he’s been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for awhile. Previous holders of that select office – Frank Church (D-ID) – J. William Fulbright (D-AR) and others – have had more notoriety. But, Risch has laid pretty low.
Which is strange given our bottomless military entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, given Trump’s blustering and B.S. in foreign affairs by breaking treaties and pulling out of world organizations. You’d think the Senate’s appropriate committee head would have something to say or possibly undertake take some actions either supporting or decrying the President’s blunderbuss ways.
But, no. Not the case. Risch, like his 52 counterparts, has been a willing enabler for just about all things Trump.
Which raises the question in my mind, why? Why have Idaho’s Risch and the others been so subservient? So obsequious? Why haven’t some of them spoken up occasionally when the “Trump train” was leaving the rails on some issue or another?
During the Senate impeachment trial, some Republicans – if not all- knew Trump was guilty of one or more of the six charges. Yet they could muster nary a guilty vote to convict. Not one. Why?
During the past four years, Trump has given practitioners of the GOP brand many reasons to say “no” or to take a political or personal position opposing him. But they haven’t. Why?
I’m sick of hearing members of Congress are “afraid” of Trump. Afraid they’ll be ”primaried” or directly threatened by him. Risch, for one, has routinely been characterized as someone with backbone – a stiff spine, someone not afraid of much, politically speaking. But, he’s rolled over to have his tummy scratched just like the rest. Even with the certainty of being re-elected. There he was. On the floor. Tummy up. Why?
It’s certain, there are other Senators known for stiff spines – for not allowing themselves to be rolled over. After all, the Senate is as very exclusive club. The word “Senator” is not taken lightly. With the lengthy history of a life spent in political office – like Risch – members of the Senate know how to “wheel-and-deal.” And to do so even when faced with resistance. Yet Trump walks in and everybody is on the floor, tummy up.
There is, in my mind at least, no real “one-size-fits-all” answer to the question: why. I suspect there are 53 individual responses – responses we’ll never know. Toeing the party line is one thing – being an “easy, cheap date” is quite something else.
There have been times in the last four years I’ve wanted to lean out the window and shout “C’mon, people, put on your big boy pants and do something for the folks that sent ya there. DO SOMETHING!”
Alas, all I’d do is irritate the neighbors.
One way or the other, Trump will be shown the door January 20. A Democrat will take up Oval Office occupancy at noon. After he cleans up the wreckage, there’ll be new legislation sent to the Hill for consideration. Legislation with a different political party name on it. What will be the Republican response? Rollovers? Tummy scratching? No resistance? Risch?
Not hardly. You can bet the farm. Democrats may have the House. They may have the Oval Office. But, those 54 hardy GOP folks will not be in a mood to get along. Progress will be slow in coming. Such progress, as there may eventually be, will be the result of some well-known backroom discussions, some wheeling-and-dealing, lots and lots of negotiations, maybe some Kentucky bourbon and branch water. It’s going to be some tough political slogging.
No tummy’s up then. Not one. Not even Idaho’s Sen. Risch.