JEERS ... to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho.
Wednesday, Risch added another chapter to his resume as a knee-jerk partisan. He went out of his way to oppose President Joe Biden’s first cabinet pick — Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
Look at the company Risch is keeping. Only 10 Republicans voted no and they include some of the same crowd who emerged from the wreckage of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection undeterred in their fervor to overturn a free presidential election fairly won — including Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan.
But Risch is the only member of the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote no. In fact, the former chairman and ranking Republican member, Florida’s Marco Rubio, not only voted yes, but as the Hill reported, skipped Biden’s inauguration in order to get Haines quickly confirmed.
What could possibly motivate Risch’s reticence?
Certainly not Haines’ qualifications. She served as President Barack Obama’s deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency — the first woman in that position — and then as his deputy national security adviser — again, the first woman to hold that job.
By contrast, the man former President Donald Trump elevated to succeed former DNI Dan Coats, former Congressman John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, was better known as an apologist for the president than as any intelligence policy wonk. The nomination got such a cool reception on Capitol Hill, including from some Republicans, that Trump initially withdrew it.
Risch had no such reservations and when the nomination came back on the second try, he was among 48 Republicans who voted yes.
Haines’ confirmation was official at 6:23 p.m. Eastern Time. In other words, it took Risch all of six hours and 23 minutes to transform himself from a Trump toady into a Biden obstructionist.
Say this for Risch: For a 77-year-old, he’s remarkably pliable.
JEERS ... to Idaho state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa.
He’s the classic case of entitlement — a man who inherited both his business and political position. He’s very much in the vein of how the late Molly Ivins described former President George W. Bush — “born on third base and thought he hit a triple.”
His idea of an injustice is when Gov. Brad Little’s limitations on crowd size in response to COVID-19 kept him from attending his son’s basketball game — a policy he’s now about to sabotage in the House.
“One of our family members is going to be discriminated against and not allowed to attend that sporting event,” Crane said.
But in a display that would make the Marquis St. Evremonde cringe, Crane heartlessly belittled Rep. Muffy Davis’ plight.
A prominent Paralympic competitor, Davis, D-Ketchum, suffered a skiing accident at age 16 that left her without the use of her legs and with impaired lung function. As her doctor has attested, “Were she to contract COVID-19, this would likely be a life-threatening proposition for her.”
Given the Idaho Republican Legislature’s insistence on convening a superspreader event — mask mandates, social distancing requirements or even delaying the session until the danger has passed are off the table — she essentially asked for leave to vote remotely.
Friday, the GOP majority, including all six members from north central Idaho, turned her down flat.
Davis was in tears.
“People’s health and welfare shouldn’t be partisan,” Davis told Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press. “And unfortunately this virus, which doesn’t care whether you’re disabled — it’s affecting everyone all over the world — has become a political pawn.”
Leave it to Crane to twist the partisan knife: “She took an oath of office and when she ran for office, she knew what the rules were. This is not new.”
How utterly cruel.
JEERS ... to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.
As state Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, pointed out this week, McGeachin continues to support the government-subsidized Idaho Freedom Foundation with your tax dollars.
In addition to the $129,883 from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program IFF pocketed last spring, it is also cost-sharing analyst Parrish Miller with McGeachin’s office.
Miller, who scores pending legislation on IFF’s dreaded scorecard of who is and who is not a conservative in the Legislature — coined the Idaho Freedom Index — also provides computer and personal services for McGeachin.
The arrangement works out to $800 a month for Miller, who has collected almost $22,000 so far since the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2018.
Still unclear is why IFF President Wayne Hoffman simply doesn’t hire Miller full time. Also murky is why McGeachin is leaving one of her three budgeted staff positions vacant in order to free up the cash for Miller’s contract.
“I guess I’m concerned about a conflict of interest in using taxpayer dollars to hire a policy analyst for the Idaho Freedom Foundation,” Ward-Engelking said.
By the way, the state of Idaho already provides McGeachin and other state officials with telephones, computers, software and a website through its Information Technology Services. The nearly $6,700 ITS bills McGeachin’s office is built into her budget.
What in the world is McGeachin paying Miller to do that she doesn’t already get through this state agency?
CHEERS ... to Congressman Dan Newhouse and Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler, both R-Wash.
Last week, they were among only 10 House Republicans to break ranks and stand with the Constitution by voting to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Not only did they display political courage, they spoke with eloquence.
Said Herrera Beutler: “My vote to impeach our sitting president is not a fear-based decision. ... I am not choosing a side. I’m choosing truth. It’s the only way to defeat fear.”
Said Newhouse: “Others, including myself, are responsible for not speaking out sooner, before the president misinformed and inflamed a violent mob who tore down the American flag and brutally beat Capitol Police officers.”
The News Tribune of Tacoma summed it up well: “On a closely watched national stage when it mattered most, Washington state’s outnumbered Republicans in Congress displayed no small amount of honor and backbone. ...” — M.T.