Election 2018 is going to be particularly tumultuous and eventful. We have seen Establishment Republicans and Democrats in both chambers jumping out of office. The unparalleled number of open seats will bring challenges and major changes to Washington DC. Long-standing Democrats have dropped out, likely expecting Republicans to hold onto the House of Representatives. The Indivisible Movement, along with La Raza, MoveOn.org, and George Soros’ dark money fundraising machines have been working overtime to thwart the Make America Great Agenda. They hope to capitalizing on bad polling to win seats.
Even though Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ senate seat fell into Democratic hands, Luther Strange’s loss (and Majority Leader McConnell’s) loss forced the Republican US Senate majority to start acting like one, especially since they are two senate seats away from becoming the minority again. Granted, Republicans have to defend 8 seats in 2018, while the Democrats and their liberal Independent colleagues must defend 25. Yet anything can happen, and anything can go wrong for Republican leaders, who have not shaken their frustrating penchant for snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.
At least Majority Leader McConnell is starting to enjoy President Trump’s tweets and going along (somewhat) with the will of the not-so silent conservative majority. If he enjoins Democrats’ efforts to stop Trump’s agenda any further and puts the gas on enacting repeal of Obamacare and construction of the border wall, then maybe McConnell can keep his Majority Leader job.
It’s good that some of McConnell’s closest establishment allies have announced retirement (Flake, Corker). Stronger, more experienced conservative candidates should be able to avoid the Roy Moore fate which upended the Alabama special election. There has been some gossip that another US Senator will be seeking the exit, standing down from re-election: Orrin Hatch.
His tenure has now exceeded 40 years. He is currently the longest-serving Republican US Senator in United States’ history. There has been good in that tenure. As Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, he championed the trial against President Bill Clinton in 1999, reminding liberal pundits that the fight for justice was part of the entire Civil Rights Movement, even when politicos mocked the whole process. Looking back 20 years later, it’s good that some elected officials took President Clinton’s sexual perversion and criminal dishonesty seriously. The rampage of sexual assaults, misconduct, and legal settlements spilling out of Washington DC is horrific—and a result of the American political culture’s lax attitude toward infidelity and sexual promiscuity among our elected officials.
Of course, Hatch’s long-time tenure in the Upper Chamber has earned detractors. As many as three-quarters of Utah voters want him to retire. Has he been in Washington DC too long? Regardless of one’s answer, term limits are not the answer to the lingering legislators who hold onto power (just look at the mess that is California).
Lately, Hatch has been changing his tune and has made glowing statements about President Trump: “You are one heckuva leader”, Hatch stated to President Trump after the historic tax reform bill passed and was signed into law. He also commented, and to MSNBC of all news media companies, “Donald Trump is one of the best I’ve served under. He’s not afraid to make decisions. He’s not afraid to take on the big mouths around here.” To Hatch’s credit, he continued backing then-candidate Trump during the “Graber-gate” audio recording released in October 2016. Even when the polling and final voting results showed President Trump earning only 44% of Utahns’ vote on Election Day, Hatch made the right call and stood with Trump.
These are welcome remarks about Hatch in connection with President Trump, and I could not agree more with Hatch’s assessment. The President’s decision to retract the massive federal government land-grab by President Obama is another policy victory, which Hatch praised.
Is Hatch changing his tune about the President and his style of politics for purely political reasons? It seems strange at first glance, since reports indicated that the US Senate Pro Tem was going to retire and hand off the reins to former Governor and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That move would have soured the national grassroots. US Senator Mike Lee knocked out fellow Republican incumbent Robert Bennett because of his un-conservative wavering on fiscal discipline and healthcare reform. Romney would not have survived Utah’s tumultuous primaries next year.
It looks as though Hatch is going to run again—and win. Frankly, I have no problem with that … at this point. The only issue I have with Hatch is immigration. He supported the 2013 Obamacare of Immigration “reform” bills. He has also listed himself as a co-sponsor for US Senators Thom Tillis and James Lankford’s SUCCEED Act. We don’t need legislation for illegals. We need to put Americans first. The tax reform package will do more of that, and that’s great. Truly, the work on this long-waiting and much-needed reform could not have happened without Hatch’s help. As for immigration, five Republican US Senators met with President Trump in the White House to discuss the immigration fights to come next year, Hatch was not one of them. That’s another good sign to let Hatch stay.
It also helps that one of Utah’s largest newspapers slammed Hatch, all while calling him “Utahn of the Year.” Why did the Salt Lake Tribune give him this back-handed compliment? His success with tax reform and his leadership on restoring the state’s ownership of key lands from federal hands. The editorial also claims another election bid would be a “theft from the electorate.” Really?
If Hatch is showing some conservative credentials to ease his re-election bid--only to go back to middling Establishment politicking—then he needs to go. But if this US Senator goes along with the MAGA program, he should stay. That outcome would ensure a strong Presidential ally in the upper chamber while freeing up GOP campaign dollars for targeted Democratic seats next year. There’s still time until the Utah primary, and anything can change.