Politicians and a sense of shame

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

Why did Republicans in Tennessee stand against Glen Casada until he agreed to resign as speaker of the House when Republicans in Washington cannot find their voice to condemn Donald Trump?

Casada said this week he will resign as speaker when he returns from a trip abroad. Good. Casada sanctioned some mighty disgusting behavior during his almost five-month tenure as speaker. He needed to step down. Bill Dunn, the speaker pro tempore, will take the top job, at least temporarily. He says he will restore boredom to the House leadership.

But two others have declared an interest in the job. Deputy Speaker Matthew Hill from upper East Tennessee and Rep. Mike Carter, a lawyer and former judge from Ooltewah, are lining up votes. The Tennessee Journal reported that only four or five House members will admit to having voted for Casada in Monday’s GOP caucus.

The playbook for politicians seems to be “hold on until folks forget about it.” Casada tried, but public statements from Gov. Bill Lee and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally slammed the door. After Casada got a vote of confidence from just 24 of 73 Republican caucus members, Lee said he would call a special legislative session to vote on a speaker if Casada didn’t resign.

In Virginia, the Democratic governor and lieutenant governor are hanging on, despite calls for them to resign over separate indiscretions. In Mississippi, a state representative was charged with domestic violence two days ago after he allegedly punched his wife. No resignation yet.

Rebecca Onion, writing last July in Slate, suggested that politicians are forced (shamed, if you will) to resign only when their party becomes disgusted. So, the attorney’s question to Joe McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” was pivotal to McCarthy’s political demise, while Sen. Margaret Chase Smith’s earlier letter listing McCarthy’s abuses of power went unheeded. The difference was the involvement of President Eisenhower when McCarthy went after the U.S. Army (duh) and the growth of disgust among Republicans in the Senate.

When will Republicans in Congress call Trump’s conduct into question? When his poll numbers drop. When should House Democrats start impeachment proceedings? Only with bipartisan support. Read Mueller’s report here.

The evolution of Republicans:

“What did the president know and when did he know it?”

– Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. during the Watergate hearings

“Robert Mueller is a respected prosecutor. He has determined that the president did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election. Attorney General Barr has released as much of Mueller’s report as he legally and appropriately can.

“It is time for both sides to stop hyperventilating over the Mueller investigation and focus on #LowerHealthCareCosts and #MakingCollegeWorthIt for students.”

– Sen. Lamar Alexander, April 18, 2019, via Twitter

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