Whitehouse: All cattle, no hat

Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 10:05pm

U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell are lucky men right now. In a phrase, they’re all cattle and no hat.

I know, you’re thinking the phrase is “all hat, no cattle.” That’s a real phrase with various meanings. It can derisively describe an urban cowboy, like most country singers who dress and try to talk like they just came off the farm but don’t know Carhartt from Cartier. It can also mean you walk around like the big boss while everybody ignores you and does what they want, like the Minnesota Vikings did before head coach Brad Childress got fired.

On the flipside you have Lamar and Mitch. Next year, Lamar will continue his role as GOP conference chair while Mitch remains minority leader of the Senate. Unlike their counterparts in the House, they didn’t pick up enough seats to become the majority party in the upper house — and they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

With the majority comes the responsibility to govern and the expectation of results. That stands in direct contrast to their preferred currency of no-to-everything. Right now, voters aren’t putting up with excuses and are demanding that those in charge get the economy rolling again. Still in the minority, Lamar and Mitch get to deflect the coming outrage of the 2012 elections and say to voters, “Well, we’ll do our best, but the Senate will still be controlled by Democrats for at least the next two years. Democrats have 51, we have 46, and there are three Independents.” 

But in effect, Lamar and Mitch have something better: a de facto majority.

Thirty-three Senate seats are on the ballot in 2012, and 23 of those are Democratic (including two Independents who caucus with the Dems). Republicans have 10 seats to defend, and only GOP Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts is worried about losing his job.

In 2011, a good number of those 23 Democratic caucus members will do more listening and more of the bidding for Lamar and Mitch than Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They want to keep their jobs and know that the best way to do that is to avoid going down a road paved by left-leaning legislators.

When those senators cast votes with the GOP, a good number of grassroots Democrats will rise up and demand they drink the Kool-Aid and go batty. They will start pushing for primary challengers, and bloggers will respond with articles charging heresy. All the while, Lamar and Mitch will watch and grin. 

It takes 60 votes to get anything done in the Senate. In 2011, it will be easier for Lamar and Mitch to get that number of votes than it will be for Obama and Reid. Look at the numbers and who is on the ballot in 2012. The senators on whom Obama and Reid can’t count are Bill Nelson of Florida, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Jim Webb of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and of course Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

On other days, I would be worried about Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Sherrod Brown of Ohio as well, since they come from swing states and it will be a presidential election year. 

What does all this mean? Lamar and Mitch have all the cattle and not the responsibility that comes with wearing the hat. They will not have to show results but just throw bombs, to cop the president’s phrase. 

It’s time to pin the tail on the elephant and quit pretending who is in charge. Instead of letting Lamar and Mitch sit back and be guerrilla leaders, install them  as the majority leaders with the title and watch what happens. We need results and not petty politics to get the economy rolling again.  

Contact the writer at kwhitehouse@nashvillecitypaper.com

25 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 12/20/10 at 5:27

Does the petty politics just come from the Republican isle?
Is Mr. Whitehouse upset at the defeat of the "Dream Act"
on Sat as basis for today story? Cost of this act was expected
to be some 20 billion dollars, which may have had a great deal
to do with defeat. Agreed that interesting yr ahead!

By: Captain Nemo on 12/20/10 at 8:30

Good morning
http://www.mikeputnamphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/sparks-lake-sunrise.jpg

By: Captain Nemo on 12/20/10 at 8:30

By embracing the Tea Party I think the Republican Party has put itself out on a limb.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 9:21

What do you think the Tea Party is, Captain Nemo? A bunch of nimrods that are ruining this country? I've got news for you, Sir. The Democrat and Republican parties of today are the parties, tied together, that are ruining the country. If this country gets saved from the state of depression it is in now, it will be the "Tea Party" who does it. And, of course, there is no official "Tea Party" now. It is only many Americans who have gotten sick and tired of the government congress has driven us in to.

Our founders put the three branches of government in washing so each one could keep the other two in control. They have gotten to the point they are walking around hand in hand.

There is no such thing as a Supreme Court any more. They are simply party appointments. Think not? How could the last two be placed in that office when they make statement of making decisions against the writings of the Constitution. Even stating about the authority of using foreign laws in their decisions. Name one that was in a different political party than the president that appointed them.

By: gdiafante on 12/20/10 at 9:29

"If this country gets saved from the state of depression it is in now, it will be the "Tea Party" who does it."

LOL

I'd elaborate but I can't stop laughing...

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 11:03

It's terrible to get old, gdiafante, but you will find out in a few years. You may even get a slight bit wiser. As an example, may I offer the following? It seems two young medical students were walking down the street when they saw and old man walking with his legs spread apart and walking slowly.

One student said to his friend, " I'm sure that poor old man has Peltry Syndrome. Those people walk just like that".

The other student said, "No, I don't think so. The old man surely has Zovitzki Syndrome. He walks slowly and his legs are apart, just as we were taught in class."

Since they couldn't agree they decided to ask the old man. They approached him and one of them said, "We're medical students and couldn't help but notice the way you walk but we couldn't agree on the syndrome you might have. Could you tell us what it is?"

The old man said, "I'll tell you but first you tell me what you two fine medical students think it is."

The first student said, "I think it it's Peltry Syndrome."

The old man said, "You thought but you are wrong."

The other student said, "I think you have Zovitzke Syndrome."

The old man said, "You thought but you are wrong."

So they asked him, "Well, old timer, what do you have?"

The old man said, "I thought it was GAS but I was wrong, too."

So you see, we are all wrong some times, gdiafante, even you.

By: pswindle on 12/20/10 at 11:14

TN is not represented well in the Senate. I can't think of anything that Alexandra and Corker have done except be yes men to the GOP. What bill have they intorduced and what have they done except vote against anything that the dems have propoed? We need someone in Congress that can work for the people and not the party.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 11:39

pswindle,

I received a letter from Alexander stating they had investigated Barack Obama and found him to be legally eligible for the president's office. I asked him where they had gotten that information and why it wasn't passed on the the public. No answer.

Answering my disagreement on Eric Holder's position as Attorney general, he stated he looked into it and voted in the president's favor. I reminded him we put him in office to represent us, not the president. No answer.

I've always wondered why I can't get an answer from a congressperson unless it is positive in their favor.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 11:42

Excuse me, running too fast. That was Bob Corker I received that answer about Holder.

I had written Alexander on the same issue but never got a reply as to why he chose to vote for Holder.

By: Tull on 12/20/10 at 11:44

All the pork that was placed in the bill to extend the tax cuts is the perfect example of bussiness as usual in Washington. After the recent elections and the uproar about taking this country back from politicians that only care about getting reelected we see wht they do. It will take something like the Tea Party or someone truly outside the loop to make any real change.

By: brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 1:23

Tull said

"All the pork that was placed in the bill to extend the tax cuts is the perfect example of bussiness as usual in Washington."

I'm wondering what pork you're referring to? If it's earmarks that you're talking about, then you're way off the mark because earmarks do not increase spending in any bill. The only thing that earmarks do is allow for the allocation of monies to specific projects within a state. In fact, I would think that the right would be in favor of earmarks because of the whole states rights issue... especially when you consider that in general, conservative states consistently receive more in federal funding than federal taxes paid.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 1:28

Tull,

There is no official Tea Party... yet. It's just a bunch of people calling themselves "Tea Party" after the original tea party. I hope sometime next year some good people will get into the program.

By the way; have you ever thought about why the Democrats use the donkey as their emblem? Just curious. What is a donkey known as?

By: brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 1:38

yogiman said

"By the way; have you ever thought about why the Democrats use the donkey as their emblem? Just curious. What is a donkey known as?"

Yogi, you might want to be careful about bad mouthing the Democratic mascot... especially considering the possible connection to one of Tennessee's favorite sons, Andrew Jackson.

By: Tull on 12/20/10 at 2:13

"The only thing that earmarks do is allow for the allocation of monies to specific projects within a state."
One thing is abundantly clear to me that congress has not learned the lessons of last month’s election. The American people could not have been more clear. They are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests. They are tired of business as usual in Washington.

By: brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 2:27

Tull said

"One thing is abundantly clear to me that congress has not learned the lessons of last month’s election. The American people could not have been more clear. They are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests. They are tired of business as usual in Washington."

Then by all means call your Senators and Representatives and tell them that you want your state to get no more money than any other state.... and then be ready for the consequences of your state NOT getting that money. Let's go back to the idea that poor states remain poor with little to no services and rich states remain rich with all the services they can afford. I've got no problems with that.... but at the same time, I don't want to here anyone bitchin' about the outcome.

By: Tull on 12/20/10 at 2:59

Tell them not to waste my tax money, thats a good idea.

By: brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 3:14

Tull said

"Tell them not to waste my tax money, thats a good idea."

Waste is subjective. Because as soon as you point out the waste in other projects, you open the door for others to target your favorite pet project. That's the beauty of it.... like they say, when you point a finger at someone else, you have four fingers pointing back at you.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 4:55

brrrrk,

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I understand you think it's okay to take money from one group of people and spend it on another.

Go back in time (it's called history). Where did the government get the authority to take money from the workers in one state, by taxes, and give it to the people in other states (through governments, of course)? That's when state governments began kissing the federal government's posterior. They didn't want to loose out on getting their "fair share" of those tax dollars. That is where the government gained control over the states of our nation. And they love it.

It's like robbing from Peter to Pay Paul. And they want to name the names.

By: brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 5:07

yogiman said

"brrrrk,

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I understand you think it's okay to take money from one group of people and spend it on another."

I would love nothing more than to go back in history and see how long it would have taken for Tennessee (and in particular rural Tennessee ) to get most of the modern facilities and services without the aid of funding from other states via Federal funding. Like I said before, states like Tennessee have been on the government dole for decades so as far as I'm concerned you point is completely mute. Like they say, "Beggars can't be choosers"... which is big talk from a state that has always had it's hand out.

By: pswindle on 12/21/10 at 11:56

By 2012, the GOP will be watching as Nancy takes control again. The GOP has gotten too greedy with all of the money coming in to destroy America. The Chamber of Commerce has become a joke. They want the jobs to go out of our country. I just want to know how this is helping Americxa?

By: yogiman on 12/21/10 at 12:39

It isn't, pswindle.

Congress alone has forced employers to go to other countries for cheaper labor.

The America as we once knew it is fading fast. The legislators seem to have forgotten they are in the Congress to represent us, not the employees of foreign countries.

I just read of our 2010 census. It seems we now have 308,745,538 people in our nation. Just wondering, how many of them are US citizens?

Considering only half of them are normal working individual, that would mean 154,372,769 would be workers. As I last understood, there was a 9.6% of them unemployed. Then that means 14,819,785 people are without an income, which explains why so many homes are being foreclosed on; too many automobiles are being repossessed and too many other living factors are being denied our citizens. By whom; and for whom?

By: yogiman on 12/21/10 at 1:05

It looks like another vital issue is being presented by Obama.

He has chosen Andrew Traver to head the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).

It is seen that if this isn't brought up to the Senate before 'recess', Obama will appoint him during the Christmas break.

For all of you 2nd Amendment believer, Traver is a full-fledged anti-gunner. He for banning all gun shows. He opposes civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and opposes private firearm sales.

Since he seems to believe guns deliver a disease, he would want the Center for Disease Control to have an oversight of the firearms industry.

OK, maybe he just believes it's the gun owners who are diseased.

By: yogiman on 12/21/10 at 4:36

I have just read where Obama got the Senate support of the START program he has proposed with Russia.

Eleven Republicans went in with the Democrats in their 67-28 vote. They broke ranks with the top two Republicans on the vote. Lamar Alexander, the number 3 Republican in the Senate, endorsed the accord earlier today.

It seems Obama had written him a letter reiterating his commitment to modernizing the remaining nuclear arsenal with projected spending of $85 billion over 10 years.

Much of that money will go to nuclear facilities in Los Alamos, NM and OAK RIDGE, TN. A critical issue with Alexander and Corker? What about the nation?

By: AmyLiorate on 12/22/10 at 4:16

Is it ever too late to stop doing wrong?

By: AmyLiorate on 12/22/10 at 4:17

brrrrk on 12/20/10 at 5:07

yogiman said

"brrrrk,

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I understand you think it's okay to take money from one group of people and spend it on another."

I would love nothing more than to go back in history and see how long it would have taken for Tennessee (and in particular rural Tennessee ) to get most of the modern facilities and services without the aid of funding from other states via Federal funding. Like I said before, states like Tennessee have been on the government dole for decades so as far as I'm concerned you point is completely mute. Like they say, "Beggars can't be choosers"... which is big talk from a state that has always had it's hand out.

Is it ever too late to stop doing wrong?