While the flag bearers of the Republican Party do their now-you-see-me, now-you-don't disappearing acts, there's an alarming absence of Utah GOP members willing to stand up and be heard. Much like insecure second-graders who know the answers but are too shy to raise their hands, their best showings have been fatally anemic, cursed by a total absence of moral foundation, and by the realization that their president is no one's loyal ally. Sure, they have good reason to be worried, because the handwriting has appeared on the wall and alliances are a frightening thing when one pins their hopes on a maniacal, toddler-esque nitwit.
And yes, they're all between a rock and a reinforced cement block. There are no easy answers that can ensure each will serve another term. Speaking out will surely put their names on President Donald Trump's blacklist, and, for a while, they'll be subjected to rabid tweets and belittled with an endless supply of retaliatory potty talk. But it's also true that, if the writing on the wall is not a lie and impeachment is successful, brave criticisms might be the right bandwagon on which to hitch a ride.
The flip side, however, is not so pretty, for Trump might survive his current self-administered legal and personal nightmares, finding ways to create enough distractions to mobilize the force of cretins who continue to support him. No matter how unlikely, he could find his way into yet another four years of decimating our democracy and profiteering from the office of president. While it's very much a congressman or woman's case of damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't, there is no damnation greater than good elected officials remaining silent when there's something important to say.
Whatever happened to the concept of red-blooded courage? Those who dare to speak at all are delivering only wobbly ambiguities, devoid of any semblance of firm commitment. Even the Susan Collinses and the Jeff-Flake-like short-timers announcing, conveniently, that they'll not be seeking reelection, struggle with the correct concept: There are times congressmen and women need to say it like it is. What we've seen is wholesale fear on both sides of the aisle.
Of course, here in Utah we have men who, because of their superior, moral upbringing, are not afraid to take a stand based, not on party lines, but guided by a sincere interest in what's right—or do we? Utah Rep. Ben McAdams, bless his heart, knows that he narrowly won a Republican incumbent's seat, so he naturally worries about keeping his job. Just a pinch of irritation to his fragile base of converts might be his political doom. With that in mind, he constantly straddles the impeachment issue and loathes taking a strong and vocal stand on anything. While he's at least touched at the core of Trump's failures, his timidity preserves his future and abdicates his patriotic responsibilities.
Perhaps Utahns' biggest disappointment is the golden boy who saved a faltering 2002 Winter Olympics. Good ol' Mitt Romney, driven largely by wife Ann's boundless ambitions, pulled off a great showing, despite inheriting Tom Welch's disaster. It was a veritable pig in a poke, yet Romney's resourceful leadership and organizational prowess earned him a mantle of respect. He pulled it off perfectly, so it was no surprise that he was able to pack his carpet bag and coast to a decisive win as Utah's newest senator.
In keeping with the illusion that he's a man of strong moral foundation, Romney has sporadically addressed the irresponsibility, impetuosity and implied criminality of POTUS. But every time he does it, he pulls back at the last moment, delivering the lash of a wet noodle instead of an authoritative coup de grace. Just last week, he noted in an interview, that fear is what keeps congressmen and women from speaking out. Having identified the culprit, he still can't break out of the ranks of the scared. He keeps reminding us why one publication, during his flip-floppy run for president, referred to him as "two men in one body."
I feel just a tad guilty picking on him. Romney seems like such a nice guy, impeccably groomed, gracious and seemingly kind to a fault. Underneath Romney's wonderfully projected façade there is a different person—one who functions on the premise, "Look out for No. 1. Poor guy, he doesn't even have the guts to use his own name on his Twitter account"—preferring creation of safe anonymity to a straight-forward approach. "Pierre Delecto" might have been a clever pseudonym, but a Utah senator should be proud to provide us with an authentic name to go with his social media opinions. Now, I know it's not right to be picking on the two people who at least tried to say something. Out of simple duty, I must mention Utah's other four congressmen. They are a total waste of perfectly good space.
We can, I suppose, blame the current congressional pandemic on the dearth of vitamin D milk in yesteryear's grade school lunch programs—after all, the dairy industry has made it crystal clear that its enriched products are a necessity in forming strong bones. It is all too obvious that Utah's congressmen suffer from childhood malnutrition. Without exception, they're perhaps afflicted with Spina Incompleta, a condition caused by vitamin D deficiency and ingestion of excessive green Jell-O.
The author is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org