by Jeffery Rendall
How would you have felt as a kid if your parents came to you and said, “We’re cancelling this summer’s vacation”?
Chances are you wouldn’t have liked it very much. If that’s the case then you understand exactly how our United States senators feel right about now. Earlier this week Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally carried through on a threat and nixed the annual August recess, claiming Democrat stonewalling forced his hand.
A prolonged summer work period is something conservatives have been advocating for years – if the legislative branch can’t/won’t get its business done Congress needs to expand its part-time calendar and get down to work. The senate might actually accomplish something this session – and they won’t suffer for it either.
The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote, “McConnell added that although there will still be a week at the beginning of August for senators to meet with constituents back home, they ‘should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees.’
“Yes, McConnell’s move can be viewed as a shrewd, partisan political maneuver. It makes sense to keep all the senators in school during campaign season when your party has just one vulnerable Senate incumbent, and the Democrats have six or seven.
“But it goes beyond that. The August recess has always been a dubious institution. After all, this isn’t continental Europe. Most Americans don’t take (or get) the entire month of August off. Why should their senators?”
Yes indeed, the necessity for a full August recess has certainly waned in recent decades. Back in the days when citizen legislators used to come to the capital intent on performing their official duties and then head back home to tend to the real “business” of their lives, there was never need for senators to stay in town. Usually the party poohbahs were the first to head out too.
And why shouldn’t they? Everything was completed (at least theoretically) and the stagnant swamp air of Washington wasn’t conducive to good health. Forget having a “break” from legislating, people left because it’s just not a great place to be at that time of year.
Times have changed, however. As communications technology advanced it only seemed like legislating got slower with politicians getting bogged down with a virtual barrage of media obligations and swamp lobbyists. Grassroots groups then began advocacy campaigns of their own and with the advent of email and social media constituents could get in touch with their representatives and senators at the simple click of a button.
Bills got longer and more complex. No one reads them anymore – there simply isn’t time. The process is broken to the hilt, and when you add the delaying tactics of the minority party to the mix you’ve got a real logjam.
Kudos to McConnell for taking the action, but he probably did it for the political motivations the editors listed above. For every day incumbent Democrat senators are stuck in Washington it’s one less opportunity to attend fundraisers, meet-and-greets and hold town hall meetings with planted leftist questioners. Meanwhile, the incumbents’ opponents enjoy a free run of the state in their absence. Incumbency is almost always an advantage…but will it be this year?
No one can say how much will actually be accomplished with the senators hanging around for a few more weeks than usual this year. Canceling their trips to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard will infuriate the Democrats – maybe they’ll get so sick of the job they’ll retire. I doubt we’ll be that lucky, however.
Americans probably won’t notice much of a difference either way. Donald Trump is commanding his usual share of the media’s negative attention and this week he managed to set additional markers between traditional America and the spoiled athletes of the NFL and NBA.
By drawing such distinct lines in the sand is Trump treading on dangerous ground? David M. Drucker wrote at The Washington Examiner, “Trump on Tuesday accused House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of being in league with a violent Hispanic street gang and used a disagreement with the Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles to question the patriotism of the mostly African-American professional football players who last season knelt during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice.
“Republican strategists, in a perpetual state of anxiety over what the president might say next, didn’t flinch.
“Trump’s habit of ignoring the economic message preferred by House and Senate Republicans in favor of the culture war tropes that propelled him to the White House is increasingly seen as an asset. Though provocative, the president’s rhetoric resonates with the base, offering Republicans a vehicle for matching the Democrats’ critical voter enthusiasm edge.”
Just like McConnell’s terminating the August recess had political overtones, so did Trump’s over-the-top response to the latest professional sports-related affront to the office of the presidency. One wonders why all of these championship team White House boycotts didn’t take place under Obama — but they’re sure in vogue now with Trump doing the welcoming.
The players assert it’s all about Trump; the people who buy the game tickets see it differently. It’s not just an insult to the man, it’s a slight to the office and all American institutions under the national symbol. Athletes can protest anything they want using the gestures or snubs of their choice, but they’re not entitled to tell fans how to react. Stupid? That may be putting it mildly.
Of course Hillary Clinton set the tone for this juvenile protest culture war by labeling “half” of Trump supporters as “deplorables” in September of 2016 – and now that the guy representing the forgotten Americans is the one with all the power the left and its tool-ish minions (i.e. NFL and NBA players) can’t stomach it. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (he with the “pig” socks and Che Guevara shirt) originally admitted he wouldn’t honor the flag of a country with such rampant racial oppression – and it appears a lot of his fellow players are following his lead.
If Trump is using this as a means to get the conservative GOP base pumped-up, so be it. Professional players have each other and the leftist entertainment media industry – Trump has millions of average folks — and they’re on his side.
A couple weeks ago the NFL attempted to defuse its awful situation by setting a new policy whereby disgruntled players could remain in the locker room if they chose not to stand during the national anthem; predictably (some of) the players balked, claiming the new rules infringed on their “free speech” rights.
Facts are facts: the Constitution protects speech against government restrictions (Congress shall make no law…); it doesn’t address some dumb football player’s desire to speak out during the normal operating course of his employment. If a McDonald’s worker can’t wear a Karl Marx bandana to work, are his free speech rights being violated?
As if the Eagles’ snub of Trump wasn’t bad enough the dolts from this year’s NBA finals teams threw additional gas on the fire. Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports reported, “Few Eagles and Warriors, if any, planned on visiting Trump’s White House even before he rescinded their invitations. This time around, the NBA is RSVP’ing before he has a chance to disinvite them.
“Even though it’s practically a given at this point, it should be a bigger deal that nobody on the best two teams in the NBA wants to visit the White House, because players, coaches and executives believe the president’s rhetoric espouses racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. The White House visit was once a rite of passage for NBA champions. Now it’s a joke. This seems like it should be discussed.”
As might be expected Rohrbach’s subsequent “discussion” contained plenty of quotes from NBA players defending Kaepernick and calling Trump a racist for daring to question the motives of a small group of disgruntled losers (who happen to be black). By extension those who support Trump were lumped in with him, meaning all the boys and girls out there who idolize men who skillfully toss an orange ball through a metal hoop mounted ten feet off the floor are just as misguided as the president himself.
At the same time these individuals – most of which excel in the NBA because they enjoy a genetic height advantage over average human beings – are treated by the media (like Rohrbach) as authorities on politics and culture as well as mind-reading (seeing inside the thought processes of Trump supporters). If these physically gifted freaks were ever required to point out a racist and explain how/why they believed a certain person is a skin-color hater – could they do it?
And I’m not talking about the torch-bearing vermin from Charlottesville either – that’s too easy. What about your coworker in the cubicle next to you with a Trump bumper sticker on his car? Or a nurse who treated you in the hospital but wrote a $25 check to Trump two years ago?
Numerous leftists accused George W. Bush of being “racist” after Hurricane Katrina (despite all of the local authorities being Democrats) in 2005. Do these purveyors of brains still think Bush hates black people – or has he managed to reclaim his non-racist status in the age of Trump?
An old saying goes, “I will not have a battle of wits with an unarmed person,” but if you’re talking about debating the concept of constitutional governance with these hapless ball-playing dolts it’s almost impossible to resist. The fissure Trump opened on this subject was there all the time, fostered and nurtured under Obama and his administration’s like-minded ideological clones like Jeh Johnson and Eric Holder.
Not to stray too far off topic but my son recently asked if I’d buy him shoes with Lebron James’s signature on it. Should we be paying royalties to an idiot who loathes us? James’s name is mentioned along with the greatest in basketball history – and deservedly so – but does this fact certify him to deem Trump (or anyone else) a “racist?”
As if Rohrbach’s reporting wasn’t already bad enough, he concluded, “The president, meanwhile, maintains that the Warriors’ invite was withdrawn because Curry was ‘hesitating’ and the Eagles were disinvited because they don’t respect the country’s military, all statements made to mask this fact: NBA and NFL players, the majority of whom are black, do not want to visit the White House because they believe Trump is furthering the racial divide in America.
“Even if you don’t agree with them or their First Amendment right to kneel during the national anthem to oppose racial inequality, ask yourself this: Why are so many of the country’s most high-profile black men so disgusted with the president that they can’t bring themselves to visit the White House? It’s not because of a flag or a song. It’s because they representation from the President of the United States.”
Not sure what Rohrbach meant by the last sentence…what does it mean to “representation” from the president?
Most conservatives and Republicans don’t give a lick what any NFL or NBA player thinks of an invitation to the White House; likewise, numerous Hollywood celebrities have articulated similar positions — refusing to meet Trump. Many of these same folks criticized rapper Kanye West for his very public support and friendship with Trump.
Curiously enough former NBA star (and all-around weirdo) Dennis Rodman (who happens to be black) is helping to broker the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un next week. Can the world possibly get any stranger? Rodman is a buddy of Trump’s, having appeared twice on “Celebrity Apprentice” during the now president’s TV host days.
Can Trump be a friend of Rodman’s and a racist at the same time? Do the NBA and NFL players think Trump hates Asians too (and hence is prejudiced against Kim)?
The broader American culture war will continue as long as the left puts forth celebrities and athletes as spokespeople for their point-of-view. Politics is a long game and Republicans appear to have shown up to play; toss Donald Trump the ball and watch as the scoreboard lights up.