Sunday, July 14, 2024

OPINION: Leadership choices as bad as they can get

by CHUCK MALLOY/Guest Opinion
| September 8, 2023 1:00 AM

Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher is a self-described optimist, but he has trouble putting a smiley face to what he’s seeing on the national level.

“I think this is the most reflective time in America since the Civil War, and surely in my lifetime,” he told me. “We have a serious leadership void.”

Fulcher says the void is more on the Democratic end, with a president who looks ready for an assisted-living facility. But he just as well could be talking about Republicans, who have their own (near) 80-year-old vying for the White House. Former President Trump, the far-away frontrunner for the GOP nomination, is facing multiple federal and state indictments. His campaign — and presidency, if he wins — could be marred with endless court hearings, perhaps more indictments and lord knows how many more impeachments.

“That’s a valid concern,” Fulcher acknowledges.

But in Fulcher’s mind, it’s worse on the Democratic side. “Our current president, I strongly believe, is not at his full capacity, and our vice president is lacking for acumen for the job.”

So, there you have it, folks. The “real” choice in the next election is what form of rat poison you’d prefer to ingest. One side offers the liquid form, and the other gives the powder version. Both taste awful — and equally deadly.

During the August recess, Fulcher offered some sage advice to his political friends in Idaho. “Keep a strong ship at home, because the federal ship is being rocked for all the wrong reasons.”

The mess is not going to be cleared up anytime soon.

As indictments roll in like a mountain top avalanche, the question that Fulcher and his fellow Republicans is: How hard would prosecutors be pushing if Trump were not the leading candidate for the nomination?

“If Trump was not the leading candidate for the Republican nomination,” Fulcher says, “would anybody give a rat’s behind about what’s at his home in Mar-a-Lago?”

And would Georgia officials be gung-ho to prosecute Trump if he had quietly ridden to the sunset after the 2020 election?

Fulcher does not defend Trump for carting home boxes of classified materials, or his call to the Georgia secretary of state asking that election results there be overturned. “I think my message has been clear — Trump is not a choir boy,” Fulcher says. “And I am not making excuses for anyone.”

But to Fulcher and his friends, corruption doesn’t end with Trump … there are issues with Biden and his son, Hunter, that should be explored. It could come to the point where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy calls for an “impeachment inquiry” to get to the bottom of the Hunter Biden matter.

“This would be an inquiry, and not an impeachment,” Fulcher says. “That would give some investigative tools we don’t have. McCarthy’s position is the DOJ has been so aggressive with its investigation of Trump, but they won’t share information about Hunter Biden. I believe we have corruption on multiple levels in our intelligence community, and it needs to be cleaned up. There essentially was an autopsy on the CIA during the ‘70s and I think that needs to happen again — with an autopsy of the DOJ and FBI. This corruption is not just with Democratic administrations, it goes way back.”

In the meantime, good luck to those agencies in getting full appropriations from the House. “The power of the purse is the only tool we have,” the congressman says. “The FBI is not going to get its full appropriation, and there will be a motion to zero out (director) Christopher Ray’s salary. I’m not saying it will pass, but there will be a motion. There will be things in the administration’s budget that will be held hostage unless there is a certain amount of cooperation.”

So, don’t look for anything substantive on high gas prices, oppressive inflation, national security, border control or the budget deficit.

Of course, we will have an election next year and Fulcher (for now) is staying neutral. At this point, there’s not much suspense. Voters will be stuck with the same cast of characters who are pushing the country over a cliff.

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Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist and Silver Valley native, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at