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Positive Politics

June 4th, 2013 at Tue, 4th, 2013 at 1:38 pm by stevewehrly

Steve’s blog

Positive Politics
by Steve Wehrly

1. The Journal has given me this opportunity to write my own commentary.  These comments do not represent the opinions or positions of the Journal. Positive Politics is my opinion. And please don’t mistake my opinion for news – although you will find items that are not reported in the news.
Think critically about both the ideas and the expression of this commentary. I invite you to flay my logic or correct my writing; neither is faultless. I only ask that you attach your name to your opinions. Anonymous, belligerent and stupid comments will be deleted.
2. There has not been a politician in the State of Washington since I became involved in 1980 who practiced positive politics more authentically than Booth Gardner.
When I decided to title this column “Positive Politics,” I wasn’t thinking about Booth. I should have. He was both personally and politically positive, and clearly the best Governor the state has had during my time in politics.
Booth’s death brought back great memories of the 80′s, when I was lobbying for SAFECO Insurance, then for alcohol, tobacco, chiropractic and telecom clients during Booth’s two terms of office.
I met Booth in 1983 on Vashon Island through his long-time friend, then-Senator Mike McManus, who knew Booth at UW and got involved with him in central Seattle organizations dealing with kids – and sports.
Booth and his family spent summers and weekends on Vashon Island (where I bought a house with Peggi Bailey the spring before I met Booth).  He had a Kennedyesque compound on outer Quartermaster Harbor, just down the South-facing beach from Al Rosselini. Lots of tennis and pick-up basketball – and waterskiing. An occasional beer or glass of wine. (Booth wasn’t fond of alcohol.) Some political talk, but not much. Booth was not that interested in politics (he hated asking anybody, even the Legislature, for money): he was interested in doing.
It’s been said by others: he was the kind of guy you just wanted to be friends with. He was shy, but extremely competitive at tennis or basketball – or politics.
I wasn’t Booth’s friend, however. Like many people in politics, Booth had few close friends. He probably subscribed to Harry Truman’s famous bon mot, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” In fact, Booth and Harry Truman had other similarities, including being underestimated.
Once again, “Johnny, we hardly knew ye.” One of very few politicians I’ll miss.
3. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, fourth-ranking Republican in the U.S. House and now a frequent spokeswoman for Boehner, Cantor and the Republican leadership, will become, if she wants to, a leading candidate for Vice President on either a Rubio or Christie 2016 ticket.
She was underestimated in the Washington Legislature, but rose to be Republican leader in the state House in 2002 after having been elected in 1994, which political wonks remember as the year of the woman – and the year that Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Tom (“The Hammer”) Delay took over the U.S. House majority, a majority at the center of CMR’s career.
CMR became the first woman Minority Leader in the state House for two reasons: she would not compromise her (or anybody else’s) conservative principles and she practiced positive politics. I have not been privy to the working of the present U.S. House Republican Caucus, but I would bet that Cathy rose to her position as Republican Conference (i.e., caucus) Chairman with the same formula.
I met her the day she was sworn in in 1994 and have remained friendly (but not “friends” – see above) with her since. She’s personally confident, easy to talk with, and doesn’t aggressively push her policy positions or her personal views on issues.
She was elected to Congress is 2004, became vice chairman of the House Republican Conference (the official name for the House R caucus) in 2008, and chairman of the Conference in 2013.
If you don’t think Republicans will nominate a woman for Vice President in 2016, think harder.
Unless Hilary’s health deteriorates (have you noticed that conservative commentators and bloggers love to talk about “How she looks”?), she will be nominated in 2016. Without a woman on the ticket (and probably without Christie at the top of the ticket), Republicans will face a defeat of epic proportions – including loss of the majority in both houses of Congress.
Republicans may still lose the presidency again in 2016, if Hilary runs or not, but a Chris-and-Cathy ticket could keep the conservative base intact, attract men (and some women) to vote for the charismatic Christie (who I predict will weigh under 240 pounds by 2014 and under 225 pounds by 2016) and women (and some men) to vote for a “true conservative” Rodgers.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen Rodgers standing beside or behind Boehner, Cantor and Whip McCarthy at R leadership post-ups, and you’ve seen her speaking for the caucus on numerous occasions, including responding to Obama speeches and Saturday morning talks.
And, if you watch C-SPAN, you would have seen her as the House floor manager of the Violence Against Women Act, a bill she had opposed previously. She presented VAWA on the floor and voted for on final passage. She handled that bill professionally on the floor, first trying to substitute the House version (which did not mention LGBT women), then moving the full Senate-passed version to final passage. She did this despite having a majority of the House R caucus opposed to the final version that she voted for.
Don’t be surprised to see her move up, possibly to Majority Leader, when Speaker Boehner resigns his speakership late this year or early next. The really conservative House R wing (the so-called “Tea Party” caucus) are leery of both Cantor and McCarthy: they may demand that one of their own (and CMR’s one) be Majority Leader.
Also, don’t be surprised if she becomes the first in House R leadership to support, or at least ratchet down the rhetoric on, same-sex marriage rights. You’ll know she’s running for something – and it won’t be against Patty Murray. (CMT can sing a different same-sex marriage tune for positive reasons: encourage monogamy and commitment; provide stable, loving homes for children; promote adoption by committed LGBT couples rather than abortion.) And, if she’s interested in being on the ticket, she just might announce for President.

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