On Fox News Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) gave Donald Trump Jr. the advice of ignoring the recent subpoena issued by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) to come and testify, again, regarding the fake news Russian collusion investigation. Senator Graham is not the only one of Senator Burr’s colleagues who has been critical of the subpoena.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been dismissive of Burr’s efforts and has said that Don Jr. and the President “shouldn’t worry.” That’s in advance of any testimony.
So why has Senator Burr decided to stand against his colleagues and subpoena Don Jr.? I’m afraid the reason is clear and the motivation as flawed as it is dated. Senator Burr wants to have his Sally Field moment with Democrat colleagues, the liberal press, and progressive activists.
Ms. Field famously made her declaration at the 1985 Oscars that the award she just received meant, “You like me. You really like me.” When you watch the old video clip you can see the sheer joy in her face in believing that a room filled with peers had just made her feel like she was one of them.
Senator Burr wants to be liked. He wants to feel accepted by the very people with whom he feigns to fight over policy on the Senate floor. This is common with conservatives in general, but especially with Republican politicians. It is worth asking why? Why do Republicans do things that contradict their own belief system and alienate their own party members and voters? The Bible tells us to love our enemy, but it is silent on the idea of making our enemy love us.
I believe we can find at least part of the answer if we go back to the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With FDR leading the rhetorical and legislative way, the Democrats became the party wanting to use government to do good things to help people in real need. They became the party of compassion. These ideas are usually associated with the New Deal which FDR pledged to America in his 1932 nomination acceptance speech. It was 12 years later, however, that he made the speech that turned Richard Burr into Sally Field 75 years later.
It was January 11, 1944 in his State of the Union Speech to Congress that FDR suggested that the United States had now accepted “so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.” Roosevelt went on to enumerate these new “rights” which were, unlike the original Bill of Rights which proscribed activities of government, a list of prescribed duties of government. They were:
- The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
- The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
- The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
- The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
- The right of every family to a decent home;
- The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
- The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
- The right to a good education.
This speech, which doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves today, is the one that truly began not the shift in government policy; that started a decade earlier. It is what codified what it meant to be a both a good person and a good politician at the same time. It was term-setting. Forget the values and ideas upon which our nation was founded, these were enlightened ideas and to argue against them made you cold, heartless, even inhumane.
Over time the press, celebrities, and activists have come to champion these ideas.
Recently, we have seen Republican Presidential nominees like George Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney embrace the ideas of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. On some level, it is hard to blame them. Read the list above and see how difficult it is in short soundbites to argue against any of what FDR positioned.
The problem is that appeasement doesn’t really work. George Bush never got the love he desired from the other side, despite a massive prescription drug entitlement program. John McCain and Mitt Romney were skewered during their Presidential runs by the same media that has been nicer to them recently because of their opposition to President Trump.
Ah, President Trump. The one who would not pander. The one who did not care if he was “liked” by all the right people. The Democrats, the press, liberals in general really hate him for not making the effort.
Senator Burr calculates that if he gives the appearance of going after the First Family then he might be liked by the “virtuous people.” Maybe they will write something nice? Maybe they will commend his character?
Or maybe they will simply see him as what Ludwig von Mises called a “useful idiot,” unwittingly helping them on their way to a more collectivist society?