In a case of unintentional damning by faint praise, Politico spills a bunch of pixels saying good-bye to the “GOP dealmakers” who are leaving the Senate in 2022, six Republican “negotiators known for working across the aisle,” who take the opportunity to pat themselves on the back for doing the least possible things to keep the government from collapsing.
“Some think ‘you have to be more partisan to win elections,’ Portman said in an interview. ‘I think it’s just the opposite.”
That’s how the story opens. Retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, presenting himself as some kind of iconoclastic force for good in the GOP instead of the guy who went along meekly while Mitch McConnell took a sledge hammer to the institution of the Senate and stole the Supreme Court. Who spent four years with Donald Trump as his standard bearer, supporting Trump’s agenda 90% of the time and voting—twice—to acquit him. Even after Jan. 6. Trump’s attempted coup was “inexcusable,” Portman said. Then he conjured up a loophole to give himself an out when it came time to really condemn Trump. It was “unconstitutional” to impeach a former president, he said.
Never mind that it is not.
Anyway, Portman assures us we don’t need to worry about the fact that he and his five colleagues who have also done the bare minimum to keep government open and doing stuff are departing. The new GOP Senate won’t be “quite the change” people are concerned about he says, because “others will step up” to be the compromisers. It’s going to be so completely normal, he implies. Republicans will be responsible, he suggests.
Just like him. Because he was a beacon of responsible bipartisan behavior this session. “Portman said that not running for reelection made it easier to work on the infrastructure bill in Washington, without having to worry about fundraising or traveling home to campaign. Not to mention the typical constituent and party pressures that bear down on lawmakers with upcoming elections.”
Not having to run for reelection didn’t make him suddenly have principles, however. He still helped his party tie the filibuster record they set in the previous session of Congress. Portman didn’t say “boo” when his fellow Republicans—all but Lisa Murkowski—blocked the Senate from even considering voting rights, for example. He voted with them.
Even now, when he’s never running for office again, Portman won’t break with his party. Given the opportunity to condemn Trump, to put down the marker that he would work to oppose another Trump run for the White House, Portman demurred, saying he believes Trump won’t run again. “Many Americans who … are supportive of [Trump] from a policy point of view are ready to see someone else run for president,” Portman said. He added that it seemed like “a lot of Republican voters are ready to move on to a new candidate, whether it’s DeSantis or someone else.”
All this to say that there is no such thing as a decent Republican and that Politico and the rest of the traditional media are never going to acknowledge that fact.