Tag Archives: Bob Michel

A Christmas Gift for Those Who Govern


Bob Michel was greeted with a hearty round of applause when he was introduced as the special guest at the RAMS club Christmas lunch in Washington December 17.

One woman, among the room full of current and former congressional chiefs of staff, rose from her seat to give Michel a standing ovation.

As he went on with his introduction, Paul Vinovich, the RAMS Head, reminded the audience that it was also the 70th anniversary of what was the greatest battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. Seventy years ago today, he said, Michel was fighting his way from Normandy Beach Continue reading

Greatest of the Greatest Generation

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

Missing one day of work over 19 years is impressive for just about anybody. But it is more impressive when the person missing that one day of work started his new job at age 71 and is still plugging along at age 90.

Washington celebrated Bob Michel’s 90th birthday last night. And ole Bob gave some pretty good advice to all of his friends about longevity.

He told the assorted crowd, which included over the evening former Speakers of the House Tom Foley, Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert and Nancy Pelosi, as Continue reading

Race For The Cure?

Reprinted from TheFeeheryTheory.com

“Come on John.  You are coming with me.”

The raspy voice belonged to Corinne Michel, the wife of House Minority Leader Robert Michel, and probably one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Mrs. Michel, an avid smoker, had a wry sense of humor and very level head. The mother of four grown (and successful kids) and the wife of one of the most powerful men in Washington, Corinne could spot bullshit from a mile away.

I think she was getting a kick out of taking me out of the Capitol building and bringing me to my first (and so far in my life my only) visit to the Vice President’s residence.

I wasn’t exactly clear why we were going, but it had something to do with a woman from Peoria who died of breast cancer. We arrived at the residence, and I walked into a nicely appointed room filled with very imposing and somewhat intimidating group of professional women. Continue reading

American Politics and the Perpetual Campaign


One of the failings of our system of governance, former Republican Leader Bob Michel once observed, is that you can no longer tell where the campaigns end and governing begins.

That trend has defined American politics for sometime. The differences between campaigning and governing have gotten less and less apparent. And this year, they seemed to have disappeared all together, after a brief flurry of off-again, on-again, off again, bipartisan, bicameral, bi-branch exchanges that showed promise, but no permanency.

The combatants in American politics, conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, have dropped any pretense of governing. It is all campaigning, all the time. And no one did it in more grandly than the President.

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden said the other day that he has never seen a President step away from governing the way President Barack Obama has. Previous presidents who served in divided government where Republicans controlled one part and Democrats the other chose not to cut and run in the face of serious challenges. Ronald Reagan didn’t. Nor did George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton. When the country’s challenges demanded it, they stepped up, not away. They found common ground, sorted through the politics and partisanship, made decisions and resolved contentious issues like taxes, Social Security, budgets and welfare reform.

When President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes:  “Isn’t it your job as president to find solutions to these problems, to get results, to figure out a way to get it done?”’ the response was pretty much no. The President said it was his job to present the country with a vision, presumably so others could govern. Continue reading

Appropriations King Hal

Reprinted from FeeheryTheory.com

It has been a long time, but the Appropriations Committee has finally got its mojo back. And Hal Rogers, the first term Chairman of the once powerful and feared Committee, is the chief reason why.

The House completed work on all of its appropriations work for the first time in years, and that was chiefly because of the quiet persistence of Chairman Rogers.

The Appropriations committee’s work can be mind numbing. When I worked fo House Minority Leader Bob Michel, I used to have to sit on the House floor when the Subcommittees be grinding through their schedule in the dog days of summer, churning through amendments and fighting over obscure funding projects. Some of the disputes seemed pretty insignificant to a young staffer like me. Continue reading

No Need to Respond


Originally written on September 7th, 2011

Ev and Gerry started the whole response thing.

Everett Dirksen and Gerry Ford, the former Senate Republican leader from Illinois and the former House Minority Leader (and later President) from Michigan used to have a radio show broadcast from the Capitol.

They turned that radio show into a televised rebuttal to President Johnson’s 1966 State of the Union Address.

Dirksen, with his mop of white hair, and Ford, with his bald pate, must have been quite a sight in the years leading up to the Age of Aquarius. Dirksen was the one who famously said, “a billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking real money.” Continue reading

Obama, Boehner, Context for Tucson


In Tucson Wednesday President Obama said what needed to be said and he said it like Lincoln did at Gettysburg: This is an opportunity for us to come together so that those people did not die in vain.

It doesn’t matter what the pundits say or who they claim to be at fault. More than likely, fault lies with the evil demons that dwelled within one man in a whole universe of flying debris and unexplained phenomena.

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized—at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do—it is important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds,” the President said.

We can’t use this tragedy as an excuse to turn on one another, he said. “Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

With words like that and those coming from House Speaker John Boehner, who said “the needs of the institution have always risen above partisanship. And what this institution needs right now is strength–holy, uplifting strength”, we can ignore those playing the blame game. We can rededicate ourselves to the kind of governance and the kind of political and social behavior that drew those who died in Tucson to Congresswoman Giffords.

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Process, Policy Both Critical to Governing


Several years ago Congress authorized an earmark of $223 million in tax dollars to build a bridge in Alaska from the mainland to a practically uninhabited island. The bridge funding caught national attention and public ire. It became the “bridge to nowhere” and the iconic symbol of government waste. It rekindled a campaign that may result in the demise of the earmarking process.

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