A going away party for 5 Democrats

By GLORIA JOHNS | Tribune News Service | Published: January 19, 2018

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a dignified ceremony where one group of guardsmen relieves the other for a good rest.

So too should be the long-overdue transition from Democratic Party faithful to a fresh band of leaders eager and able to serve.

And there’s no reason not to make it a festive occasion.

In fact, the first invitee is the most respected of the lot, and here’s where we southerners have a special preamble for sympathetic reality — “Bless His Heart.”

Joe Biden should retire, retaining forever the title of one of the most respected statesmen, Republican or Democrat.

Biden has much to teach up-and-coming Democrats in the art of civil compromise. But the future portends one muck fight after the other — Republican versus Democrat — and there’s a battle to be won before compromise is considered. Only then will Biden’s skills become relevant again.

Hilary Clinton should probably be the guest of honor at the going-away party.

We haven’t seen much of Clinton since her failed run for the presidency in 2016, and that’s a good thing. Celebrating her departure boils down to the fact that most of America is tired of the Clintons.

Tired. Tired. Tired.

And it isn’t that Hilary Clinton has nothing to show for her years of commitment to public service. She does. But Hilary and Bill Clinton had their eyes set on building a dynasty, the only problem being that the Clintons are not Camelot quality; rather the most ambitious couple in American politics.

Nancy Pelosi is also on the guest list.

Pelosi’s record of accomplishments as a Democratic Party patriot is remarkable. She was the first female speaker of the House, the highest rank of any female politician in American history. And she was the first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress.

And she’s been a powerhouse when it comes to maneuverings behind the scenes within her own party to advance or retain the appropriate personnel.

But even though Pelosi was re-elected in the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats lost 63 seats, and we know how 2016 turned out. She’s not a good match for the future of a party that needs to learn better how to displace Republicans, not just herd chickens.

And then there’s Lloyd Doggett, U.S. congressman for the 35th District of Texas, who has occupied his seat for 23 years.

Doggett does not make headlines, and if we’re talking about bad press that’s great news. But in a die-hard Republican state such as Texas, every elected Democratic official has to be a force to be reckoned with, a scrapper. And Doggett does not fit that bill.

And it’s time that Jim Clyburn steps aside. By all accounts a good man, Clyburn has had his share of victories, for example he has been re-elected to his current position as the U.S. representative for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.

But it seems as if Clyburn has on more than one occasion been placed into circumstances of leadership by default, which is a lot different from hard-scrabble victory.

In 2006, he became chairman of the Democratic Caucus in the House, but only when Bob Menendez was appointed to the Senate. And had Rahm Emanuel challenged Clyburn for the chairmanship, likely he wouldn’t have come out the winner. There is nothing dynamic about him.

But by advocating for the impeachment of Donald Trump, Clyburn is making a huge mistake. Step. And anyone who has been in the political arena as long as he has should know better.

In fact, his grandstanding works against the meticulous process that insures the integrity of the investigation into Russian tampering in U.S. politics, and provides talking points for Republicans who would have us think of Trump as a victim.

It comes down to the future of the Democratic Party, and there are more than a few vibrant and dynamic Democrats who can’t get to the podium because others have stayed too long.

Celebrating a graceful retirement involves perfect timing, leaving nothing for the buzzards to pick off the bones. Right now, leadership in the Democratic Party is starting to look a little like skeletons.

Gloria Johns is a freelance writer living in San Angelo, Texas.


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