A couple of beefs with Mike Lee and Chris Stewart

LaVarr Webb

Mike Lee beef: There’s an old saying that Congress can really only do two things: Nothing and express outrage. Lee took the outrage thing to a whole new level in the last several days. He did Oscar-winning outrage on every news outlet imaginable. His outrage made him the darling of liberal media and arch-liberal Democrats in Congress. Wow. That was some impressive outrage.

And then, after basically trashing Pres. Trump’s top foreign policy and national security advisors, calling them fools, idiots, buffoons and liars, he somehow contorted himself to say they were renegades, not carrying out the wishes of the president. And he is, of course, still a big Trump supporter.

The reality is guys like Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were, indeed, reflecting Trump’s wishes when they briefed Congress on killing of the Iranian general and the circumstances involved. And I trust them on foreign policy and national security more than I trust Mike Lee.

Lee and his fellow outraged senator, Rand Paul, are outliers on this matter. The vast majority of Republicans in Congress were just fine with the briefing and what happened. And there’s a good reason to avoid briefing Congress in advance on sensitive operations – it will be leaked all over creation. You want Iran, Russia and China to know exactly what we’re doing? Just brief Congress. 

I really like 90 percent of what Mike Lee does. The other 10 percent leaves me baffled. But if I ever need some serious outrage aired, I’ll certainly call on Lee.  

Chris Stewart beef: I also like 90 percent of what Chris Stewart does. Maybe even 95 percent. But he recently sent out a press release bragging that he “will NOT gather signatures for 2020 re-election bid but will instead focus on GOP delegates.”

So, he’s basically telling all Republican voters that he doesn’t care what they think about him. He just cares about delegates. He doesn’t want to give all GOP voters a say in whether he gets on the primary ballot. He wants only delegates to make that decision.

“I was originally elected by delegates in 2012 (before signatures were an option) and fully embrace and endorse Utah’s caucus/convention system,” Stewart said. “I look forward to meeting with as many delegates as possible in the coming weeks and months.” He bragged that with Rob Bishop retiring, he will be the “only sitting GOP member of Utah’s federal delegation to have never gathered signatures to secure his position in a GOP primary election.” 

I suppose it doesn’t matter to him that his fellow congressman, John Curtis, wouldn’t be in Congress if he hadn’t gathered signatures. Chris Herrod and his state delegates totally blew Curtis out of the convention. Gov. Gary Herbert wouldn’t be governor today if state delegates had their way.

I don’t have a problem with any candidate going through the caucus convention system and declining to gather signatures. But to brag about it risks alienating mainstream Republicans who don’t want delegates making decisions for them.

If Stewart faces an intra-party challenge this year, it won’t be from the right. The danger will come from a mainstream Republican who will gather signatures and note that Stewart wants to be nominated by a few thousand delegates instead of by all Republican voters.

Most of the state has moved on. Politicians who hate the signature-gathering option are living in the past.