Skubick: The saga of the disagreeing Congressmen

- Raise your hand if you are a good government-type. That is, you do not believe compromise is a four-letter word and it's O.K. to work with the other party to get stuff done. If your hand is not up, you may excuse yourself from what follows for it will surely upset your tummy.

Once upon a time there was a conservative chap from Michigan who ended up in Congress serving with an equally conservative son of a bartender from a nearby state. On many major issues, the two disagreed.

The barkeep's offspring favored No Child Left Behind. The other strongly opposed it. When the former ran for an important leadership post, the other voted for somebody else. And that threat of being on different pages ran through their intersecting careers. As the Michigan guy noted, "I didn't support him that often."

In politics, where memories are long and the urge to get even runs high, the two had a critical meeting one day.

The other Congressman rose to the highest leadership in the U.S. House and when it came time for him to pick somebody to run the House Intelligent committee, the new Speaker of the House John Boehner called his sometime detractor, Congressman Pete Hoekstra into his inner office.

When the meeting was over, Mr. Hoekstra got the job.

Many moons later, Mr. Hoekstra, now in the private sector, reflects on a kinder and more conciliatory Congress that no longer exists. "John didn't hold grudges and as long as you did your job," everything was O.K.

Which is why Mr. Hoekestra laments the treatment that the soon to be former Speaker received from a gang of 25 colleagues. Their memories were long and they wanted to get even because they felt the Ohio congressional veteran was too moderate for their tastes. And to sour their taste buds ever more he had dared to try to work with the president from the other party once too often.

"He got a raw deal," Mr. Hoekstra observes about his old sparing partner. He thinks it was "unprofessional" for the TEA Party crowd to vote against him for the Speakership at the beginning of the new year.  "Sometimes you have an obligation to the party" and he thinks they should have closed ranks and voted for him.  He believes Mr. Boehner deserved "dignity and respect" instead of a no-vote of confidence.

As Mr. Harvey use to say, you know the rest of the story as the dissidents got their revenge as, rather than fight and drag the institution through the mud, the speaker would step aside.

"It was the right decision," former GOP lawmaker Hoekstra concludes. "He doesn't merit the kind of ridicule and dumping on him" that he is getting and he finger's U.S. Senator Ted Cruz among the worse offenders. "That's wrong," Mr. Hoekstra argues.

Mr. Cruz, of course, favored another shutdown of the government to send a message that Planned Parenthood was bad. The shut-down strategy "is not a very effective legislative tool, Mr. H. explains plus he adds the other guys never offered a plan of their own on a variety of issues.

But having uttered that, now he too becomes a target of ridicule from those who did not raise their hands. They think it was wrong for him to side  with a man who was a straight-shooter and understood that the art of the deal was not the provence of one party alone.

John "wanted to get things done," and if that meant working with the other party, his former colleague contends what's wrong with that?
 

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