Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Congress and the Dangerous Lesson of Paint Splatters

By Bob Ferris

There is a picture that my wife hates (see above).  She was setting out to do some touch-up painting on the exterior of our house on a warm and sunny day.  But when she opened the paint can the heat had pressurized it and she was sprayed in the face.  Now all should know that I share this photo again publicly at great risk to myself.  I do that willingly because I think the message that needs to be sent to Congress is much more important than the domestic tranquility that I might temporarily (hopefully) compromise.  So here goes.

Let me start by saying that anyone who is paying even the least bit of attention understands that the Congressional investigations of the Trump and/or Russia cluster of confusion to-date have been embarrassingly partisan and ineffective.  And I am not just talking about the near-term.  How come Congress did not do something about this while it was happening?  Why did so very few Members of Congress complain publicly about this obvious intrusion? Where were all Congress’ actions to protect our democracy from this obvious foreign attack?  And if Congress wants to say they did not see it happening or did not have the powers to prevent this, that would be truly, truly sad indeed—particularly since France seemed able to do it so well.

The American public can be patient if they feel the train in heading in the right direction.  But here is the thing…the Grand Juries (1,2,3,4).  Now there is another train (or perhaps trains) being driven by those in the Judiciary.  And here is where we come back to my wife’s picture.  That is what Congress will look like if the Judiciary comes into the station before those in Congress.  And deservedly so as those in Congress will seem either incompetent or complicit.  Not really any in-between space here.

Now I am in no way urging a rush to judgement or sloppy investigative work, but efficiencies can be achieved.  For instance, perhaps hearings on the issue of Russian election interference might not be the most appropriate place to delve into the constitutionality of an unrelated Executive Order—particularly when you end up getting your hat handed to you on camera.  But this is really the crux of it, isn’t it?  Those in Congress are crusading for their parties, rich folks or to make us a Christian nation and have forgotten that their job is to make sure that all their constituents regardless of race, color, gender, creed or lifestyle—citizens and guests—have a voice and are looked after in a reasonable manner.  That other stuff should be a hobby not the main focus.  Had that been the case a lot of what we are experiencing now would not be in play.  And I really cannot find those places in the US Constitution—that these elected officials swore to uphold—that enable or encourage rabid partisanship, pushing failed economic approaches that funnel wealth to a few (1,2,3) and a single religion approach.

I would also say that part of the job of Congress (and the Presidency) should include maintaining our country’s standing and dignity.  That dignity was certainly not enhanced by rooms full of candidates trying to out-god each other in a country that is becoming less and less religious (1).  Perhaps religion should remain a personal issue edging on private along with the relative size of one’s member and the mocking of those with disabilities.  Perhaps it is acceptable for the world to think we are governed by those lacking basic leadership skills or decency but there is no reason to concretely confirm it.

Elected officials can certainly claim that they turned a blind eye to this for their party or the greater good but those seem hollow justifications when one honestly looks at the colossal impacts of these transgressions on our nation and people.  But Members of Congress should think about how rational that approach remains now that the President has held a closed-door meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister where Russian press had access but those in America did not (1).  This on the day after Trump slapped Lady Justice soundly by firing the FBI Director investigating him over his connections to all things Russian.

So my advice to anyone in Congress at this point or running in 2018 would be to take one or two issues related to this and make some progress.  As of this morning there 50.5 million Google Search results for “Trump Russia Ties.” Likely one of these would be a viable option for some sort of inquiry.  This is important, because you will be asked sometime in the future what you did to prevent this or to solve it at a town hall meeting or on the campaign trail.  If you do not, you might end up looking like my lovely wife once did about election time.  Because the sun is clearly on your paint can and the pressure is building.

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