Sunday Political Brunch: This Year’s Political Valentines

Sunday, February 11, 2018
Mark Curtis, GoLocalWorcester Contributor

Get your chocolates, roses, and champagne ready. We are starting a new tradition here at "The Brunch" of sending political Valentines. Politicians love to claim credit for things, that sometimes are truly the gifts (and works) of others. So, I'm in a gift giving mood! Let's "bunch" on that this week:

"A Supreme Thanks!" – President Trump needs to send a Valentine to Senator Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader. Yes, President Trump nominated Neal Gorsuch to be Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he was confirmed. But it was really McConnell, who stalled the nomination process when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. President Obama nominated the able Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the post, but since we were knee-deep in the Presidential campaign, McConnell and many others felt the new President – no matter who it was – should pick the next Justice. Yes, it infuriated Democrats, but McConnel's stall gave the GOP a court pick, it might not have had.

"Everyone Knew Her as Nancy" – Liberal Democrats and "the dreamers" ought to send Valentines to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D) Minority Leader. She stood on the House floor for over eight hours this week, arguing for legal citizenship for people affected by DACA. The House doesn't have the filibuster, as the Senate does, so her lengthy speech was a rare event, and the longest in U.S. House history. So far, her marathon speech has 
not resulted in any legislation, but it keeps the children's immigration issue on the front-burner. Like her, or not, Pelosi has passion for her constituency.

"Hey Joe, You May Not Go!" – Last week President Trump and Vice President Pence were in West Virginia for the annual Republican Congressional retreat. At one-point VP Pence launched into an attack on Senator Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia, who is perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the Senate and the one who most often sides with Republicans. It may have been a tactical mistake. Manchin – who is in the political fight of his life to keep the seat – is a political brawler who loves a good fight. Manchin responded saying, "The Vice President's comments are exactly why Washington sucks." Manchin also chastised the VP for not lodging his complaints, "to my face." Pence may have provoked the "sleeping giant" in Manchin, who's not likely to lose without a bruising fight. Joe, send Mike an unintended Valentine!

"To Serve; With Love" – Democratic Congressional candidates should send an en-masse Valentine to Republican incumbents and the GOP leadership. Again, as the government teeters on shutdown, the GOP continues to shovel electoral gold to Democrats. Look, the party in power is always going to get blamed for a shutdown – just look at the past three. Yes, the Democrats are probably way out of bounds for tying DACA to federal budget votes, but Republicans continue to look like, "the gang that can't shoot straight." Yes, partial government shutdowns are more theater than actual damage, but they are symbolic in the sense that it  looks like the leaders can't "keep the trains running on time." Competence and leadership matters. Democrats sling your love arrows to the GOP!

"I 'Heart' Public Record Searches" – President Trump needs to send a dozen roses and a box of chocolates to FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page. The two – who were romantically and professionally involved – exchanged in an extensive series of anti-Trump emails and other communications. Given their involvement in the probe of Russian election meddling, etc., it gives the impression (real or perceived) of an internal FBI bias against candidate - and now President Trump. In a courtroom where a defense lawyer may have to argue "reasonable doubt," this is gold. To be clear, President Trump has not formally been accused of any wrongdoing, but if he ever is, the Strzok-Page communications may be "Exhibit-A" in his defense.

"How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away" – The nation needs to send Valentines to the countless men and woman who stood up to sexual harassment in the workplace this year, especially in the world of politics and public policy, where it seems especially bad. Members of both parties – sadly too numerous to mention here by name - have been caught, quit, or have otherwise been shamed by accusations from subordinates. Look, you were sent to Washington, D.C., or your state capitol, or to city hall to represent us and do the will of the people. It's a State House; not frat house. A lot of offenders were sent packing
this year on both sides of the aisle. Good riddance!

"Nobody Loves West Virginia More Than Me" – I won't be sending him a dozen roses, but maybe a dozen shotgun shells (he loves hunting). Governor Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia is the most colorful politician I've covered since the late Senator Howell Heflin, (D) Alabama. Like Heflin, Justice is a huge figure (literally and figuratively), who says whatever he likes, without regard to whom it might offend. Last year Governor Justice (who called himself a grizzly bear), told the Senate Majority Leader (whom he compared to a little yelping, pesky dog), that he was "going to eat his a**" live on a statewide radio show. Love him or not, 
Justice and his folksy quotes are gold to any political junkie and reporter like me.

Who is you political Valentine this year? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, and its five surrounding states, as well as Washington, D.C.

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