The stunning transformation of Congressman Charlie Dent from a leading moderate Republican into a lame duck – culminating in the news that he won’t be seeking reelection in 2018 – is just the latest example of how Balkanized our political landscape has become.
And Dent’s decision to not battle a more conservative challenger in the GOP primary isn’t even the most high-profile example of how increasingly partisan politics and policies are rewarded. Just look at the continued recriminations between the Sanders and Clinton camps as the latter’s new book has brought about yet another nauseating round of relitigating who and what lost the 2016 presidential election.
Need another example of how this is no longer an interregnum but a new normal? Look no further than the reams written about the deal cut between President Donald Trump and Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. A bipartisan agreement on short-term spending and hurricane aid shouldn’t have the feel of a paradigm shift – it should be seen as them doing their jobs.
Contrary to the hopeful tones of comity being bandied about after that sadly remarkable scene, the signs of any kind of shift toward bipartisanship seem wildly overanalyzed. In addition to Dent, who was only the co-chair of the 50-member strong Tuesday Group of moderate GOP Representatives, there have been no fewer than 14 House Republicans to announce they are leaving the chamber in 2018. Among them are two other moderates, Washington’s Dave Reichert and Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In a perfect world, these politicians would be replaced by people willing to work across the aisle, regardless of party affiliation. But this isn’t a perfect world. Judging by Dent’s parting quote, he knows it all too well.
“As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I've worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington. I've fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default.
Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos."
Justin Simmons: What a difference a week makes. After leading off last week’s Losers, the state Rep. finds himself both at the head of the GOP class to replace Congressman Dent – and leading off the W column.
Tom Marino: In yet another 180 of fortune, the three-term Congressman from the 10th District will become President Trump’s drug czar – a scant four months after it was determined that his controversial past led the president to drop him from consideration for the post.
Eugene DiGirolamo: the Republican state Rep. from Bucks County broke from the House GOP’s summer of recalcitrance to make a serious proposal to fix the commonwealth’s budget crisis. His plan not only embraces the traditionally GOP non-starter idea of a tax on shale drillers but a significant 8 percent jump in the state income tax – also a huge departure from his party’s position.
Anti-medianites: Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Daniel J. Anders tossed – with prejudice – a lawsuit brought by the urbanist PAC 5th Square aimed at ending the time-honored but illegal practice of parking in the median of South Broad Street from Washington to Oregon avenues – a 1.5-mile stretch that can accommodate some 200 cars.
John Green: The former Philadelphia sheriff is scheduled to go on trial next month – six years after federal fraud and conspiracy charges were brought against him for acts committed during his 22-year tenure.
Natural gas drillers: In addition to the seemingly inexorable shift by many in the state GOP in favor of some kind of severance tax, more bad news for the industry came in the form of a report that finds the Delaware River Basin Commission is planning a vote as early as next week on permanently banning any kind of natural gas development near the Delaware.