A MAN ALONE: Let's hope the ballad of James Lankford makes a real impression … on James Lankford
I don’t know how they do it.
I don’t know how principled Republicans in Oklahoma and beyond continue to operate in a party wholly without principles.
Gentner Drummond, our state attorney general, may relish it. But he doesn’t need a Republican majority to get something done.
As attorney general, he wields his own power. And, being a Republican attempting to tame fellow Republicans, he can’t easily be politically sullied.
He has the space to do the right thing all by himself, something the vast majority of state house and senate Republicans wouldn’t know the first thing about.
Leslie Osborn is another example. She, like Drummond, does not fall for the lunacy of her own party, yet her ability to affect insane Republican politics, talking points and corruption is utterly limited from her perch atop the state’s labor department.
She’s a bulwark against the unrestrained idiocy that might erupt were some Ryan Walters equivalent to have her job instead, I’m sure. Yet, beyond the influence of an odd op-ed, her power to rein in madness is tiny.
How does she do it?
Perhaps, someday, she’ll switch sides.
Also, you know who thought he’d been empowered to do some serious and good work for this country, some real governing, stopping the madness at the southern border and, bonus, saving Ukraine while supporting Israel militarily and the Palestinians humanitarily?
That would be our senior U.S. Senator James Lankford, who did everything right, only to have the rug pulled out from under him by Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the man who empowered him in the first place.
Playing out over the last few days, it’s an issue about which it can feel everybody knows and nobody knows at the same time.
If you keep up with the news — Fox News doesn’t count — you know all about it, but if your mind’s with your family, job and just getting through the day, like a majority of Americans, you may know nothing.
So here it is.
So called “conservatives” have been screaming about the “invasion” at our “open” southern border long before it became an issue in real need of addressing. But it’s a real problem now and Republicans have been beating Democrats over the head with it politically for some time.
Dems have long wanted a comprehensive solution that grants legal status and a path to citicenship for the “DREAMers,” who are mostly illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. by their families while very young, effectively making the U.S. the only country they’ve ever known.
Republicans have long called that and anything that wouldn’t promise to throw out everybody who’s already here, including hundreds of thousands our economy could’t live without, as amnesty. And, more recently, they’ve claimed the current flow across the border to be a national security risk, be it from criminals, terrorists or illegal drugs, like fentanyl, that kill Americans.
They also really like beating Democrats over the head with the issue, or did I mention that already?
Yet, here’s the thing.
Because a wing of U.S. House Republicans would like to return to the isolationism of the 1930s and are fine with Russia swallowing up Ukraine, while feeling no compulsion to support Israel either, the entirety of the party found itself in a fantastic position to demand Democrats give them what they want on immigration and the border.
Democrats, they figured, would go for it because it was the only way they, in turn, would agree to continued support for Ukraine and military support for Israel.
They were right.
Lankford, a conservative’s conservative, was appointed lead Republican negotiator in the senate and guess what?
Democrats rolled over.
One tiny part of the deal Langford struck is this:
Were there ever an instance in which migrant encounters reached 5,000 in a single day, a shutdown of the border would be triggered until border authorities could catch up with the backlog.
Ergo, had the deal passed both the house and senate by, say, today and been signed into law immediately as President Joe Biden promised — because 5,000 daily encounters is not unusual — the border could be closed tomorrow.
Everybody agrees Lankford secured a Republican wish list never before imagined. Everybody agrees it’s far more than Republicans every believed they could ever get. Everybody agrees it to be an historic deal.
Yet, because Donald Trump would rather continue beating Democrats over the head with the issue than actually solving the crisis, Speaker Johnson preemptively, before even reading it, declared it dead on arrival should it reach the House.
That, in turn, was the coup de grâce for McConnell, who then ordered the same Republicans who’d supported Langford’s efforts and the deal struck to abandon him and it instead.
The deal died Wednesday on a procedural vote needing 60 “yays” to keep it alive. Forty-five Democrats voted to keep it going, but only four Republicans, Langford, unwilling to sell out his own deal, being one.
McConnell had supported the deal and had the votes to push it through until Trump and Johnson decided they didn’t want to solve the problem after all.
Instead, McConnell hung Lankford out to dry.
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Never mind, it’s now the Democrats, not the Republicans, who really want to do something on the border.
Never mind, the one issue Republicans claim to care about the most they’ve suddenly abandoned, proving they don’t really have any governing priorities, don’t really want to do anything for the good of the country, even when it was their idea first.
Never mind, that what’s been reasonably apparent for a long time now is now entirely apparent.
Republicans, as a party, are not here to help.
For some reason, they believe they can still win the politics even while the only things they’re loyal to are the machinations and whims of a man currently facing 92 federal indictments, who payed off a porn star, sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll, defamed her and did it again, who’s using campaign funds to pay legal fees, who keeps saying he’s running against Obama, who has mistaken Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi, who …
Jesus, does it even matter.
Or, how about this?
Does it matter to James Lankford.
Now he knows the real nature of the cult that’s usurped his once-proud party.
Now he knows, though Oklahomans sent him to Washington, he will not be given the opportunity to govern, to solve problems, because his party’s not there to do those things, but to placate one man instead.
He thought he was placed in a position to do great work, to be seen to be doing great work. He thought he’d been empowered to solve a border crisis, maybe save Europe from Russian aggression and secure support for Israel, too.
Instead, it turns out, though he may be there to do the work, he’s only there to have it thrown down the drain to please a criminal, business cheat, tax cheat and sexual predator whose name is Donald Trump.
I wonder how James Lankford feels about being a Republican now.
For his own good, let’s hope he hates it.
For the good of the rest of us, let’s hope, a dream thought it may be, he does something about it.