Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Who Knew One's Obligations as a Public Servant Would Sometimes Cause Discomfort?

South Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), the longest serving member of Florida's congressional delegation, has announced her retirement. Her departure presents a major Democratic pickup opportunity in a district that his shifted hard to the left in recent years (Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump there by a punishing 20 point margin).

It's not that I begrudge her retirement. I can't imagine now is a fun time to be a Republican Congresswomen, particularly for some like Ros-Lehtinen who is, if not moderate, then at least idiosyncratic. Carrying water for Donald Trump doesn't seem appealing, but neither does full-throated opposition to her own party's chief standard bearer. It's the same reason Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced his retirement:
Like everyone else, [Chaffetz] assumed Hillary Clinton would win the election and provide him with endless fodder for high-profile investigations from his perch as chairman of the Oversight Committee. He'd be on the front page all the time, doing CNN hits, and just generally gaining lots of name recognition for the next step in his career. President Chaffetz? It could happen!
Then Trump won. Suddenly the Oversight Committee was all but shut down. There would be no investigations. In fact, it was even worse than that. There was a real possibility that Trump would do something so outrageous that Chaffetz would have no choice but to hold hearings. Then he'd really be in trouble. He'd be caught between loyalty to party and the need to avoid looking like a total shill. It's a lose-lose proposition.
Not that I think Ros-Lehtinen harbored presidential ambitions, but you get the idea. Being in Congress just isn't fun anymore for any Republican who -- whether by position or by principle -- finds themselves uneasy by Trump and his antics.

At the same time, there is something rather pathetic about this. Oh, it's uncomfortable to be in a position where one could be expected to operate as a check against your own party's President when he behaves recklessly or promotes outrageous policies? We can't have that now can we! Best retire and kick the can to someone else. Nobody could reasonably expect that those multiple decades of seniority and public service actually be put to use to protect the damn country!

Whatever, I'm cranky. The point is that it doesn't seem like Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is interested in doing her job anymore to the extent that her job would entail policing the Trump administration and thus antagonizing fellow Republicans. So it's probably better, all in all, that Florida voters get the chance to put into office someone who will step up to the plate.

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