Republican Governors whose ambitions reach to Pennsylvania Avenue must be smiling. They probably don’t like the hit the brand is taking, but must sense that anybody with District of Columbia on their business card will not get the Republican nomination to be President.
This is how Republican Dan Crenshaw, a House member, characterized the Republican Caucus in the House after day one of the voting for a Speaker: “It makes us look foolish. If I didn’t know any better, it’s like the Democrats paid these people off … ‘Let’s make it look like the Republicans can’t govern and don’t deserve any gavels.'”
“Don’t deserve any gavels”? If they don’t deserve gavels, do they deserve the White House?
Turning to the State Houses, Governors engage. Their constituents are close at hand. They solve challenges or move from the Governor’s mansion to a smaller home. I helped elect a Governor and served in his cabinet—my observations are not abstract.
On day one of the voting much of the news world was preoccupied with Republican dysfunction. Yet two articles were neon signs that underscored our government’s failure to get the detail right. If you do not get the detail right, government becomes an expensive failure. And, a failure to understand the importance of operations is underscored by calling your political opponents names and otherwise engaging in performative politics.
Now to the articles. The first highlighted the failure of sanctions as we engage as an active ally with Ukraine. CNN had the exclusive. The headline: “A single Iranian attack drone found to contain parts from more than a dozen US companies.” The article went on to note that “Parts made by more than a dozen US and Western companies were found inside a single Iranian drone downed in Ukraine last fall, according to a Ukrainian intelligence assessment.”
Making sanctions stick in the international supply chain is not easy work. It can be done but it takes determination, persistence and skill at multiple levels. And the result of failure is lives lost, war prolonged and sanctioned nations enjoying a big laugh at the expense of Uncle Sam.
Turning from international alliances fighting wars together and from CNN to the Wall Street Journal, how do United States citizens stack up with the rest of the rich world on life expectancy?
This is William Galston’s observation in the Journal:
“U.S. life expectancy trailed Germany’s by 2.5 years, Canada’s by 3.2 years and France’s by four years.”
“Some of this disparity reflects the U.S.’s terrible performance in infant mortality. It ranked 33rd, behind every European and Asian country in the OECD. Some of it reflects huge geographical disparities within the U.S. The life expectancy gap in 2019 between America’s best state (Hawaii) and its worst was about seven years. Still, even Hawaii trailed 25 OECD countries. (West Virginia would have placed dead last, behind Mexico.)”
The inability to deal with public health issues that are much more fundamental than what Anthony Fauci said or didn’t say about protection from Covid is simply a reflection of ineptitude.
So let me wrap up with one of my recurring concerns, government debt. Wednesday President Joe Biden and U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell took a victory tour in Kentucky highlighting projects funded by recent infrastructure spending. This is especially appealing politics and reflective of an earlier generation of political marketing. “Take a look at this new bridge we are building, isn’t it great.” I suspect the tour did not highlight maintenance work; it doesn’t play well on a marquee.
I have no problem with new bridges if the hard work is getting done. And that hard work must include progress on the spending front. But there are no overnight fixes. And in a democracy the fixes must start with us. Next election size up Governors as the race for the White House unfolds. Also look for candidates who are leaders and succeed by working collaboratively. The clown act in the Republican House Caucus underscores the need.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.