I guess I can’t help myself and follow the above advice of Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor. Too many things banging around in my head.
• Part of Leadership is keeping your head when all around you are losing theirs. Democrat’s scattered, hyperbolic response to all things Trump is evidence of their wholesale lack of competent leadership. The ancient Romans understood their greatest military strength was the Phalynx. They also knew their weakness was its flanks so they developed a defense for that weakness. But, even with that defense (called Joints), the flanks remained their weakness and their smart adversaries avoided the Phalynx and concentrated on the flanks.
o The national Democrats are attacking the Phalynx and unless they deviate they will suffer, at best, the same result as Pyrrhus of Epirus. Their eruption on the weekend announcement of a 90 day moratorium of non-Americans coming here from seven unstable, terror-haven countries is an attack on a portion of Trump’s Phalynx (Keep America Safe as a part of Making America Great).
o Their total lack of competent leadership is belied by the ease with what Trump drew them into a battle against the Phalynx. In 500 years, nobody beat the Romans by attacking the Phalynx.
o I even think Trump may have “bungled” it on purpose (or got lucky as it couldn’t have played out better long-term) to highlight the slow-playing the approval of the Cabinet and the need for him to have his team on board. The Democrats don’t even know they are playing into his hand. If Democrats are ever going to be effective opposition they have to quit under-estimating Trump. How big does the graveyard have to get for them to learn this lesson? Or do they have to be six-feet under to finally learn?
o In addition to dealing with the Phalynx and Joints, one has to understand the terrain. Spartucus was successful because he used the terrain (not just physical terrain but also societal terrain) to his advantage. This “carnival show” of not showing up for committee hearings not only ignores the terrain but actually makes the terrain an obstruction to their success. Most people want Congress to work and not showing up to work is doing exactly the opposite of what the people expect. Those applauding this “carnival show” are going to get a chance to praise their martyrs as they lower them into their political graves. Right now, I put the over-under after the election of being 57 Senate Republicans after the next election (not counting the defection of Manchin and King from the Democrat Caucus).
o Continuing with the Roman analogy, the biggest threat to the GOP nationally is what brought down the Romans. The Roman military strength allowed them to take territory they didn’t need and couldn’t manage effectively. The GOP doesn’t need to win every fight just because they can. Just win those that are critical and important. And be gracious and generous winners. Advice I think appropriate for both state and national Republicans. Hubris is a most unattractive trait.
• College students need safe spaces to deal with Trump winning the election and they not only deny safe spaces for people to say things with which they disagree but also become violent rioters. The irony is rich.
• Comments for who expect there would be more progress on tax reform and repeal/replace of Obamacare:
o Trump has not even been in office two weeks, he has none of his cabinet approved who will deal with these issues, and most importantly our multi-branch process works slow. Let’s not forget Reagan’s signature tax cuts passed Congress on August 4th.
o Speaker Ryan said today under the current Budget Law, Congress can only legally deal with one of these matters at a time. Congress will deal with Obamacare first because the current implosion of Obamacare is more immediate which he expects to be completed this Spring. After that he expects Tax Reform to move to the top and be completed by the end of the Summer (mid-September). Based on my experience working for Senator Abdnor, this is very aggressive.
• While a case can be made the Legislature is doing the right thing with regard to HB1069 and the other related bills (in the end “good government is good politics”), a case can be made they are mishandling it politically. Lucky for them, the SDDP and Weiland et. al. have proven themselves incapable of launching effective strategies. That said, don’t assume they will always be incompetent. Go to the people and explain what you did and why. The facts are on your side. All that must be done is to make your case. Do the hard work.
• Let’s not lose perspective. Nationally and in South Dakota, the Republican Party is as strong as ever. In my 40+ years of observing politics, this is arguably the strongest our party has ever been as measured in positions in elective office. We have an abundance of riches upon which to build.
o It’s really hard to objectively argue Pam Roberts has been a poor GOP Chair. Whether or not she is the person to build and maintain our position or it is Dan Lederman, I trust the Central Committee to debate and decide this matter. They will properly consider what Pam has done, the endorsement of Pam by our top elected leaders who observed her in the trenches with their campaign organizations, and the vision of Dan. I hope the rest of us won’t be distractions by denigrating the persons of Pam and Dan who have carried an awful lot of water for the Elephant for decades. Win or lose to be our Chair, both are winners and neither are losers.
o Our party has the prospects of deciding in a gubernatorial primary between our Member of Congress, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. The Democrats have nobody. Before they have even begun to make their case (they all have jobs) or even decide if they are running, I lament we are trying to demonize them and drive them from the race (or office). Sure, if we don’t like something they do, point it out while remembering is only a single matter and keep it in perspective. In a year, the primary voters will begin the decision-making process. The election is 16 months away.
• Sioux Falls City Commissioner Pat Starr is proposing a gift of land to the Glory House as a means to expand our capabilities to transition former prison inmates back into society. Glory House is a rare example of a program which reduces recidivism and its expansion bears support. We (Federal, State, County etc.) can’t afford the astronomical cost of recidivism. An expansion of the Glory House for this small amount ($500,000 of land) promises a tremendous long-term reduction in government operating expenses needed to deal with people who otherwise would return to the criminal justice system. Few government expenditures promise a bigger potential return.
• Speaking of the City of Sioux Falls, the unexpected death of retired head of Planning and Development Steve Metli is a loss of a statesman and source of wisdom. I didn’t always agree with the specifics of Steve’s vision but I never ceased to have great respect for his smarts, grace, integrity, hard work and persistence. My prayers go out to his family who I’m sure had expected to enjoy many years with a man who gave so much to our City. May the soul of Steve, by the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.