Sunday, February 28, 2021

Heads Up: Oregon Gov. Greg Walden

It could happen. 



A moderate-seeming Mr.-Nice-Guy Republican could be elected governor in 2022.


He may not be able to shake off the GOP brand.



Portland summer
Let's start with the grim reality for Democrats. They have been running things in Oregon a long time. Democrats are same-old, same-old. 

There is no clear, obvious Democratic candidate for governor on-deck. Being a conscientious governor at a time of COVID sets a person and party up for failure because no one likes the shutdown-rules. Kate Brown and Democrats suffer from that. At best, people grudgingly accept COVID rules as necessary, even as they second-guess them and are frustrated by them. The people most hurt by the business closures and distancing rules are angry, and there isn't a compensating balance of people who are positively thrilled. Things will be better by November 2022, but there will be a lingering stink of Democrats being kill-joys.

That election will made harder yet by the 2020 Portland summer. Democrats, especially as represented by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, seemed unable to tell the difference between protest and riot, or if they understood the difference, were unwilling and unable to do anything. Oregon government looked weak and incompetent. It creates the worst of both worlds for the Democratic brand: Tough on honest citizens trying to support their families when it comes to COVID; feckless against Portland anarchists who undermine peaceful protests and vandalize a city.

Yes, the 2022 election could be tough.

A Republican alternative is potentially available: Greg Walden. This blog predicted early and often that Greg Walden would leave the Congress to become a lobbyist. He helped GOP members get elected, but created a monster for himself. The newcomers were Freedom-Caucus-style populists more interested in outrage than governing. As a GOP leader, Walden had the same frustrations as John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Walden left Congress. He is a lobbyist now.

Greg Walden at Town Hall
Maybe not for long. Perhaps I under-estimated his political ambition. He would be swimming in money now, but maybe that isn't where his heart is, not when the governor's office is in reach. Greg Walden has a conservative voting record, but he is not Trump-ish in his language and policy. He is part of the vanishing Main Street-Rotary Club-businessman wing of the GOP, the one that formerly shaped the values and policy of the party. He sounded sincere at Town Meetings when he said he wanted to continue protecting access to health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, even as his party's policies were threatening them. There was no "replacing Obamacare with something better." Walden understood that, but it appeared that he was sorry about it. He looks and sounds like a sincere, earnest moderate who wants government to work, not a populist who wants to fight culture wars. He is a throw-back to a kinder, gentler Republican style.

Oregonians elected conservative Republican Dennis Richardson as Secretary of State in 2016, in a strong Democratic year. What happened? A liberal Democrat with a public reputation for woke over-reach combined with a Republican candidate who sounded moderate. The "new" Dennis Richardson in 2016 stopped slamming gays and abortion, and began talking about jobs. It worked.

Greg Walden could do the same thing, although he has a problem. Trump did not become "presidential." He governed on behalf of a base that wanted a slash-and-burn warrior. Trump solidified support with the same people who drove Walden, Boehner, and Ryan crazy. It is now their party. They are cleaning out the heretics in Orlando, Florida right now. Walden hasn't spoken out against them. He is threading the GOP needle of a GOP Civil War by being silent as Trump wins handily. It is the strategy that makes sense for a lobbyist who wants access to Republicans, but not one who wants to win a statewide race in Oregon.

I expect him to waltz to an easy win in the GOP primary if he files for governor. He has money and credibility within the GOP. But then, there he would be, the candidate acceptable to the GOP. He would carry the brand, with all the benefit for solidifying 40% of the Oregon vote, but turning off about 60% of it. The Trump party of Oregon is as incautious in messaging and immoderate in policy as the people who drove Walden crazy as a party leader. The GOP appears to have come out of the 2020 election determined to be more than ever the party of outrage. 

The biggest thing that would keep Walden from being elected Oregon's next governor is that the Republican Party has sabotaged its moderates.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fewer American babies. Way fewer.

Americans aren't reproducing ourselves. 


Fertility rates are well below replacement levels in the U.S. and in other developed countries.


We aren't dealing with why, but we are feeling the effects.


Women in prosperous, developed countries are having fewer children. Replacement rate is approximately 2.1 children on average for every woman. In the USA, back when I was born about 1950, American women had 3.0 children on average, meaning a natural increase. That rate fell steadily until 1972, when it crossed below 2.1 and fell to 1.75, rising to 2.0 in year 2000, but falling again to its present level of 1.77 children per woman on average. 

Click: Interactive map
Only two states in the U.S. show a birthrate that would sustain our population, Utah and South Dakota. We are gaining in population because of net immigration.

This is a world-wide phenomenon in developed countries. In some places fertility rates are even lower than the U.S., falling far below replacement levels, especially in crowded, prosperous Asian countries--Singapore (0.83), South Korea (1.14), Hong Kong (1.19), Japan (1.41)--as well as all over Europe--Germany (1.44). Roman Catholic countries show the same trend: Italy (1.44) and Poland (1.35.)    

People may be less fertile; we may be poisoning ourselves by accident. There is a pronounced worldwide decrease in sperm counts over the past fifty years, measured by the numbers of healthy motile sperm necessary for conception. Are the pesticides, herbicides, and plastics we are using affecting us? Something apparently is. Obesity appears to be a factor, especially in North America and Europe, but my observation of people in East Asia is that obesity is much more rare there, and yet they experience the same reduction in sperm counts. (I know from personal experience that an American who buys a size "medium" Nike brand running shirt in the U.S. needs an "extra-large" in Hong Kong.)  
Click: Scientific American
Click: American Journal of Health

The trend line on sperm production seems relentlessly downward. Human males were "over-engineered" for sperm production, with far more than were necessary, but that was based on the idea of young men impregnating young women. In developed countries that is not who is attempting to get pregnant. People in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world are delaying marriage. Women want to establish a career before starting a family, and they have access to reliable contraception, which means they can have an adult sex life without bearing children, and are choosing to do so. They are delaying childbearing into their thirties and forties when they are less fertile and pregnancy less likely. Add her age to the partner's lower sperm count--perhaps a count that was more than sufficient when both were age 20, but less so for him when older--the result is fewer pregnancies.

The economies of prosperous developed countries have changed, making childbearing more "expensive" in the broadest sense, both financially and in overall career opportunities and lifestyle. The jobs are in the cities, where space is expensive. "Family wage" jobs require education, and men and women need to delay childbearing during their twenties to get the education necessary to support a family. Social norms have changed. People delay marriage because cohabitation and pre-marital sex is more acceptable. Given widespread reliable contraception, children are a choice, an expensive one. People who choose not to get married or to have children are increasingly common and therefore the behavior is normalized, creating a feedback loop.

Meanwhile, national policy in the U.S. is not "family friendly" in the arena of health care, tax deductions for children, or public support for day care. Elizabeth Warren's proposal for universal day care is condemned by the right, and many on the left consider it wishful thinking, too big a stretch to possibly get passed and a sign of her political extremism.  American couples recognize that childbearing means that one or both partners likely take time off of careers, at a time when housing costs frequently require 30 to 40% of a median worker's income. 

Put together declining fertility, delayed marriage, separation of adult sex from childbearing, urbanization, educational requirements for family wage jobs, tax policy, entitlement policies that benefit the elderly and not young families, and we have a situation in which native born Americans are not reproducing themselves.

Who is having babies in the world? People in poor, crowded countries in the Middle East and Africa.




The reality of fertility will have profound effects on America but it happening so slowly that it is easy to miss. Most people who are of "retirement age" have purposely arranged their lives to be unproductive, as measured by Gross Domestic Product. As the number of young people decline, there are more retired people as a percentage of the working population. They are, overall, an expense.

Seniors vote. Older people vote themselves health care via Medicare, paid for by people who are of working age, and for whom Americans do not supply health care. Expensive health care for young working people is yet another impediment to childbearing.

America will adjust. We may become more welcoming of immigration; there will be a worker shortage and the people available to do the work will be immigrants. Americans, like the Japanese, may become more accepting of automation and robots. We might choose to make childbearing less financially burdensome via public support for healthcare and childcare. 

Younger, working Americans may develop a political consciousness that they are being taken advantage of by the older generation, the people sitting on all the assets whose prices has been inflated by monetary policy. As young people become both more rare and more important, the balance of political power may change. A charismatic leftist politician may make the case that the world does divide--as Mitt Romney had observed--between "makers" and "takers."  That leftist politician will make the case that it is time for the people who do the work to get the benefit of it.

Friday, February 26, 2021

All Good. A veteran gets his COVID shots


Everyone my age--71--has a vaccine story.


"I scored an appointment this morning!"  So wrote a joyful, relieved, and frustrated friend from Massachusetts.



Her email came with the subject line: "Vaccine Appointment Woes." This Massachusetts woman scored her appointment having started by clicking on a website before 8:00 a.m. with fluctuating notices of likely wait times, and got through after twenty minutes. Various appointment slots were offered and then withdrawn from the screen as she entered her personal data, but she got approval of an appointment in a week, chose morning times, which caused her computer to freeze, changed to afternoon times, which got deleted, and chose a late afternoon time and got through. The only time available conflicted with another appointment she had scheduled long prior, but she was warned of a six-hour wait-time to try to reschedule an appointment once made, so she cancelled the conflicting appointment. She had her vaccine slot appointment time, and she wasn't giving it up. Relief.

Another friend on the east coast said he was trying to get an appointment through the MyChart application. He was filling in the questionnaire, one answer per page, regarding eligibility, symptoms, exposure, travel, and which facility he wanted. Then it tells him that there are no doses available anywhere. Still no appointment.

A third correspondent, this one in Ohio, reported a good experience with MyChart and he was guided to getting an appointment for his first shot. However, he described a neighbor who had a great deal of trouble, having registered with a county health department which eventually called her to say she could get a shot, but only if she could get to a remote place within the hour.
Tam Moore

Everyone has a story. My own story here in Medford, Oregon is that on the first day I was eligible, February 22, I called the advertised phone number for vaccination appointment scheduling. That morning I called it repeatedly and got no ring, no response, a dead phone. In early afternoon I tried again and after perhaps twenty tries, suddenly, the phone call went through. I was on hold for ten minutes, and then a person answered. I have an appointment March 5.

In the context of these emails, I asked Tam Moore, a person a few years older than myself, what his story was. He reported that he got his second shot today, and at this moment felt great, both in health and by the process.

Tam Moore, a Vietnam veteran, is a lifelong journalist, who worked in television in his early days and then in print, writing for the Capital Press, a regional newspaper focusing on the agricultural industry. In the mid-1970’s, Moore served as an elected Jackson County Commissioner in southern Oregon. He was elected as a Republican in 1974, back at a time when Oregon Republicans were progressive on civil rights, when there were pro-choice Republicans elected locally and statewide, and when Republicans supported cleaning up the environment.




Guest Post by Tam Moore


Amid uncertainty, some things just go right

 

It was chilly and overcast when I pulled into the Veteran’s Administration Rehabilitation Center for my second COVID vaccination this morning. Fresh from reading comment on the Internet about difficulty some are having even getting an appointment for vaccination, I checked in, waited for the six-passenger golf cart which shuttles you to another part of the facility that’s been COVID central for over six weeks.

The VA Center is all that’s left of what was once a U.S. Army Hospital when Camp White on the Agate Desert outside of Medford, Oregon was a two-division training post during World War II. It houses some vets going through rehabilitation therapies and is the hub for medical support of several thousand veterans who live in Southern Oregon. 

There was a letter, then an email, when the VA got access to vaccine back in January. At age 86 I fit right in the priority group for shots, after the facility’s front-line medical workers and resident patients.

 What’s striking about the folks who turned out for the initial shots on my scheduled day is the amount of mobility-impaired people with me. There are canes by the half-dozen, walkers and guys so unsteady they arrive with care-givers to help them along. We whizzed through the paperwork, the separation in waiting areas and the post-shot 15-minute sit down in case allergic reactions turned up. And 35-minutes later I was in my car headed to another errand with a sore shoulder.

Today  there was just me and one guy with a cane. We’d all been told to come back 28 days after the first shot – at the same exact appointment time.  It turned out the same nurse who gave the first shot was there for my second. But they had moved her to another station in the complex set up so up to six patients could get a jab at the same time. The needle, properly labeled, was ready along with forms and nitrile gloves. What wasn’t ready was quick access to the VA electronic medical records. My nurse was shuttling between a laptop and a two-screen computer to enter the data. Twice she excused herself to check with someone else. 

“We’re in a lull,” someone said from outside the room where I waited. Finally the shot. 

In the observation area, just me and the guy with the cane. He beat me through. After observation, waiting for the chilly shuttle I chatted with the VA door keepers.  An ex-Marine with his jaunty fatigue cap, a woman manning the disinfectant and wipe-down job and the lady who checks you in and out. Seven more to go before lunch, she said – and one called, he’s going to be late; driving over from Klamath Falls over a snow-pack-covered mountain pass. 

The volunteer shuttle driver dropped me off 10 feet from my car, after telling me he likes the duty so well he’s been working five days a week since this vaccination thing began.  I was on the road 29-minutes after I parked. 

Moore in Vietnam
When I retired at age 70 and checked in to where I could get the mandatory prescription insurance, the VA was more than willing to take me on. Turned out they wanted to know about my health because back in ’66 and ’67 in Vietnam I frequently operated through areas defoliated by Agent Orange. That’s a cocktail of potent herbicides linked over time to a host of neurological disorders.

 Despite the horror stories you sometimes hear about VA medical care, my experience has all been good.

I can’t say the same about the rocky-start of the national COVID vaccination campaign. Anecdotal stories of trouble and frustration abound. When I got home this morning and checked my email, there was a frustrated message from my old friend Felice Pace. He lives over in Del Norte County on California’s Far North Coast. He wants his journalist friends to blow some smoke on the vaccine shortage in his part of California. “What is going on, “ he asks. “Why is Del Norte County being treated the same way as many third world countries which are being denied access to vaccines?”

 I don’t have answers. I do know that working on a river in a defoliated rainforest 55-years ago and living 11-miles from a VA facility that knows how to mobilize to administer shots makes a difference. 




Thursday, February 25, 2021

Trump was uniquely skilled

A brand expert writes to tell me I was wrong. 


Cruz could not escape ridicule by claiming "the Cancun trip was perfect."


Ted Cruz is not Donald Trump.


Three days ago this blog asserted that Ted Cruz handled a crisis incorrectly.  I wrote he should have copied TrumpCruz faced a crisis management problem. He was caught slipping off to Cancun while his constituents were freezing in the dark. It looked irresponsible and self-serving. Trump would have ferociously asserted he was doing exactly the right thing. I suggested Cruz might have tried the same approach. 

Tony Farrell immediately wrote me to say I was wrong. Tony is a college classmate who has the experience and credentials to give authoritative advice on a brand and reputation in crisis. He had a long career as a brand manager for The Nature Company, The Gap, and The Sharper Image before going into the toughest of marketing arenas, infomercials. 

Farrell said my advice would backfire on Cruz. Trump was gifted and could pull off what Cruz could not. People would not be copying the skillset and approach that made Trump successful. It would be an iteration of the tradition of armies that update their uniforms by mimicking elements of uniforms of foreign armies held in high esteem, as if the shoulder epaulets were the reason for their battlefield success.

Farrell's comments are a warning to readers who may face their own crisis of brand or reputation. Don't think you can just copy Trump or any other idiosyncratic leader. Maybe Cruz could have tried a sincere and full apology, and said he learned from this and will do better. We have not seen a humble, contrite Cruz. Maybe Americans would like seeing a bit of it from him.


Guest Post by Tony Farrell


 I didn’t know Steve Jobs but did work closely with two Apple board members, and so followed him closely. I read Walt Isaacson’s biography soon after Jobs’ death, in 2011. (I’d not expected the book to lean into body odor so much; when finished, I felt gratitude for having never met the guy.)

The day after Jobs’ death, a close associate of his came into my office and expressed fear that too many executives would “learn all the wrong lessons” from that singular genius: Abusive behavior toward associates; dismissive of market research; blind narcissism; an imperious leadership style; one could go on. 

 Knowledgeable management experts would quibble that such crude characterizations of Jobs are superficial and inaccurate, sure. But the concern about learning wrong lessons? Absolutely valid. Non-genius business executives who take on Jobs-like behaviors—thinking his many faults are keys to their success—will simply expose themselves as clueless, untalented wannabes. 

I believe Trump is a singular genius as well. In the latter case, perhaps more a savant but, nonetheless, a con-man of epic skill. And, with those who are conned, able to get away with anything. For his core of resentful white men, Trump conveyed apparently genuine affection and empathy. Unfortunately, Trump did this, in no small part, with vile expressions of shared hatreds, fears and prejudices—something almost never seen in a successful American politician. 

Con-men politicos of lesser skill (and Ted Cruz certainly qualifies, as does Josh Hawley) who aim to curry favor with Trump’s fans by being Trump-ish—will not survive, as Trump always did. No one else but the Donald, with his brilliant con-artistry, can pull off the escape acts. This will be how Trumpism gradually fades from the scene. Ted Cruz’s excellent Mexican adventure was so entertaining; undone by his groveling apologies; so instructive and illustrative of a Trump wannabes’s failure to understand that no one but Trump himself is up to the job. (No pun.) 

Now, Trump himself is dead (or good as, being a loser) and one politician in a million. Thank God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Public Hearing Thursday: COVID shutdown comments

Public Hearing scheduled for Thursday, February 25, 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time.






Jackson County Oregon will move from "Extreme Risk" to "High Risk" of COVID spread. Case numbers have dropped.


     “This is hopeful news that Jackson County has a decrease in cases and able to move to a lower risk category.”

         James Shames, M.D., county health officer


The hearing tomorrow is an up close look at an iteration of a conflict that is happening all across America. Some people welcome COVID restrictions. They are inconvenient but they are saving lives. Other people resent and ignore them and consider it over-reach and tyranny. 

The battle is playing out in my community and the hearing is nominally an effort to inform the county governing board how local citizens feel about the COVID restrictions. I recognize that about half the readers of this blog live outside this area. The hearing may be of interest anyway. It is primary source material. The hearing reflects the tensions and division in this country on how we should have--and should now--respond to the COVID epidemic.

Some readers who live in urban areas wonder: "What in the world  are those crazy people who refuse to wear masks possibly thinking?" They will get some answers. Not everyone thinks the way they do. Fox viewers are in a bubble, but there are liberal, urban bubbles, too. 

Here is a link to view the meeting and to comment:

Here is a link with the Notice of Public Hearing, which includes links to Governor Kate Brown's Guidance on COVID restrictions. It also includes links that will bring readers to a memo by County Counsel, saying that even though Jackson County is a "Home Rule" county, it is subject to the governor's emergency rules. That is unwelcome news to some people, who would like to think this area can ignore the governor.


Background

Many people living in rural America--and frequently their local elected leaders--resent and object to efforts by state governments to require safety measures regarding COVID. Local elected officials, including ones in Oregon, or state officials in rural states like Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, win favor with their constituencies by refusing to comply. 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown won election because of a very strong showing in the urban area of the state--Greater Portland. She lost everywhere else. She faces opposition based on several parallel political divisions, each reinforcing the other.
      She is a Democrat, telling Republicans what they must do.
      She is a Portland-area person, reflecting urban views, telling downstate rural people what they must do.
     She is an office-bound woman, reflecting nanny-state, goody-goody conscientiousness attempting to control rugged, risk-taking men who work outdoors.
     She is a government official with a background in law, telling struggling businesspeople what they must do and cannot do.
     She purports to be acting on well-established science and experts, telling people who disbelieve those experts and believe contrary opinions on the danger of COVID and the best way to deal with it.

Governor Brown faced a credibility problem from day one, a built-in group of people primed to feel oppositional. Even if Oregon had a Republican male businessman from rural Oregon serving as governor--unlikely but not impossible--that governor would have had trouble implementing CDC guideline restrictions of the kind Kate Brown did. It would still have been the unwelcome hand of government restricting freedom.   
     
Jackson County, Oregon is a purple mix politically. Population density is a close proxy for political views, particularly as it relates to behaviors relating to sharing resources or burdens. Rural areas in the county voted eight-to-one against requiring automobiles to be inspected for exhaust pollution. Mask-wearing is near-universal in the cities, and is more commonly ignored in rural areas. Rural areas vote against tax levies.

The Jackson County Commission consists of three at-large Commissioners, all Republicans. They have not welcomed Democratic Governor Brown's compliance guidelines. Jackson County has been an area termed "Extreme Risk," although with new daily cases dropping to 48 and a test positivity rate of 6%, the state announced yesterday that with county will drop one notch to a lower risk category. This has huge consequence for restaurants and bars, allowing them to re-open for indoor dining on a limited basis. 




Tomorrow's hearing will reveal some mix of opposition to the state rules and support of them. I invite readers to listen, watch, and hear the different points of view. The meeting will be accessible worldwide via Zoom.




Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Revolving Door: Lobbyist Greg Walden

     "He could have really made a difference. Instead, he will make a fortune."

           This blog: yesterday


     "Greg Walden will resign from Congress to become a lobbyist. He would be great at it."

          This blog: November 8, 2018


Greg Walden is a sad case. His energy and talents brought him to leadership of a GOP he helped build. The team had a mind of its own. 


  
Readers complained I was being condescending to Greg Walden by saying I felt sorry for him. "He has got to feel miserable about this, but he is stuck. He has a job to do," I wrote. Walden's job was leading a team trying to reverse programs he realized were helping his District. That had to hurt, I wrote back in May, 2017. Click

It would be a year before I would predict he would hate his job so much he would resign it.

Walden was well respected in Congress. He had extraordinary success raising money to elect Republicans as Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. His skills and ambition led him to power and prestige--head of the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee dealing with telecommunication and health care at a time when those were at the center of American politics.

Does it get any better than that?  Yes. Better is getting to own your own soul. Walden had to choose between it and leadership.

Walden is a Reagan-Romney type Republican. A nice-guy Republican, not an angry in-your-face one. One could see and hear in Walden's voice at Town Halls that he didn't want to destroy the Affordable Care Act. He understood full well that the expansion of Medicaid brought huge benefit to the people in his District, the nation's largest single user of Medicaid expansion. Rural hospitals in his District depended on it to stay afloat. But ending the ACA was the stated goal of the GOP. The GOP had turned angry and populist. Leadership in a party meant being part of that team. If the team wouldn't follow Walden, then he needed to follow them. So he did.


Success led to misery.

I wrote on May 5, 2018 Walden might resign mid-term. Click  I was early. He stayed in office one term as the "ranking member," having to address someone else as "Mr. Chairman." I knew he would hate that:
{T}here is something new that may take Walden out of the Congress, perhaps by him joining the other GOP legislators who retire to join a lobbying firm. Being in leadership exposes Walden. His duties to the GOP caucus demand he play two contradictory roles simultaneously, selling one thing in the District and another back in D.C. That has to be uncomfortable.

And there is so much money to be made as a lobbyist, while back in the District people like Tim White are calling him a fraud and pointing to his campaign contributors. Yuck.

In November, 2018, I said Walden should give it up and be a lobbyist. Click  A month later I observed he now had to hide from constituents. His party had policies on health care that were drawing thousands of opponents to his Town Halls, made worse by the fact that he needed to explain and defend policies he didn't agree with. His heart couldn't possibly be in this.
Dec 16, 2018
A month ago I predicted that Greg Walden will leave Congress soon. He will resign, possibly mid-term, but in any case not run for re-election, so he can fulfill his true calling, an industry lobbyist. His position on health care is un-tenable, he now has to hold invitation-only events to avoid protests, and staying in office requires endless tiresome cross-country travel.

He has got to be sick of trying to explain that he actually loves the health care provisions he tried to kill, especially if he has to live with the consequences of its demise, and that is a real possibility.

Walden is going to skedaddle.

 

Free at last. In January, 2019, with Democrats in a majority, and Walden a "Ranking Member" and not "Mr. Chairman," Walden was one of only seven Republicans to vote to end the government shutdown. He was free once again to be Greg Walden. He showed his stripes.

A party caucus does not take instructions from its leaders. It has its own mind. He was a skilled general forced to fight the wrong war against the wrong enemy, led by an unruly army. The GOP radicals had confounded and frustrated House Speakers John Boehner, Dennis Hastert, and Paul Ryan. They confounded Greg Walden, too.  I urged Walden to use his political capital to try to change the direction of the GOP caucus. Click

He could speak out against tribalism. Walden would get a tongue lashing and nasty tweets from Trump. He could embrace them. After all, the work he has done for his adult lifetime was in devotion to a better America, as Walden saw it, not devotion to personality cult. Walden could signal he represented the Constitutional conscience of the Republican Party, the Party that will outlast Trump. 

It is a good option. Walden has seen how conscience transforms a person's reputation. Chris Wallace of Fox has been repositioned from just another Fox sycophant into something greater, now representing the integrity of journalism.

Walden is going the money route instead. Conscience and speaking out for Constitutional order would have cost him contracts and credibility as a lobbyist, someone welcome in the office of any GOP Senator or Member of Congress. A teammate.

It is a disappointment. He could have been better than this.

Apparently, I was asking too much of Greg Walden. The Trump tide is strong as ever. Trump is announcing vengeance will be struck against disloyal Republicans. Heretics beware. It is Trump's party now: Populist, angry, outraged, immoderate. Not Walden's. So Walden is going along, by leaving.

Walden probably would have been ignored. Congressmen and Senators who resist Trump get censured by their parties back home. In Oregon, the GOP leadership had written a resolution saying the January 6 insurrection was a false flag operated by Democrats to embarrass Trump. It was just replaced by a leadership team even more supportive of Trump. It is a period when anti-democratic enthusiasm on the populist right dominates the GOP.  Republicans with ambition who had happily voted for Reagan, Romney, and the Bushes are mostly staying quiet or are leaving the arena. Right now the country needs courageous; we are getting caution.

The Republican Party doesn't have room for Greg Walden anymore, not as a leader. If the Republican Party is going to become a conservative party once again, someone other than Walden will need to carry the ball.

Too bad. The country needed him to step up. Instead, he is cashing in.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Revolving door in the swamp

Greg Walden to become lobbyist.


I predicted he would leave the Congress and immediately become a lobbyist.







For Immediate Release: Monday, February 22, 2021

Following his recent retirement from Congress, Greg Walden, former Chairman of both the House Energy &Commerce Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, today announced the creation of Alpine Advisors, a new policy and strategic advisory firm. Alpine Advisors is a partnership between Walden and the Alpine Group, a leading Washington government affairs firm.

Walden will serve as Chairman of Alpine Advisors, which will service a wide range of clients, with a particular focus on the energy, technology, telecommunications and health care sectors, issue areas in which he developed significant expertise during his more than two decades in the House and service in the House leadership.

Readers did not believe me. People said I was trolling Greg Walden, making predictions without any basis. I was guessing, yes, but I could see the handwriting, even three years ago, back when my prediction was "unthinkable." I said that Walden's true home was as a lobbyist, cashing in on his relationships with the industries he had overseen, not staying as a Congressman.

It is the ugly side of the swamp, but Walden was an excellent swimmer in the gray waters of K-Street influence.

Tomorrow's blog will look back at my predictions of this. His choice to become a lobbyist is no surprise, but it affected how he did his job as Congressman, alas. He didn't want to burn bridges. That meant that he decided to follow the GOP, not help lead it. Too bad. He could have really made a difference.

Instead, he will make a fortune.