You may not believe this, but there was a time in Alabama where we had commonsense, level-headed Republicans serving in office. There weren’t many of them because there weren’t that many Republicans.
But they were real Republicans – fiscally conservative, rarely invoking their God as a running-mate, and they supported and sponsored good legislation, regardless of the party that put it forward.
Former Sen. Bill Cabaniss immediately comes to mind. He served in the Legislature for a little while, but many fewer years than today’s lifetime “public servants.” Cabaniss was in the House from 1978 to 1982, one term, and then in the Senate from 1982 to 1990, two terms.
As happens with most honest, hardworking part-time lawmakers, Cabaniss tired of Montgomery’s shenanigans and called it quits in 1990, running for the U.S. Senate against Democrat Howell Heflin.
Imagine a time when we had two high-quality candidates running for the U.S. Senate from Alabama. Heflin won, but Cabaniss ran a good campaign.
Cabaniss would have made an excellent governor. Except Alabama doesn’t elect excellent governors.
In 2004, Cabaniss was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic by President George W. Bush. He served with distinction, of course. Most Alabama politicians today can’t spell “distinction.”
The Bill Cabaniss I knew and covered would be appalled with President Donald Trump.
But our Republican U.S. House, Senate and Alabama Legislature members? They’re Trump sycophants. If you could pry one off Trump’s ass, it would leave a hickey.
And that’s disappointing, and not because we’ve got lock-step Trumpers in the Legislature. Most Republicans in Alabama are. It comes with the territory where “We Dare Defend Our Wrongs.”
But there were some – a few – reasonable Republicans in Alabama after men and women like Cabaniss threw up their hands in frustration.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne was one of those – in another lifetime. Byrne helped clean up Alabama’s corrupt two-year college system. He ran for governor as a moderate and lost.
So like the infamous George Wallace after a then-progressive Wallace was defeated during his first run for governor, Byrne remade himself in the image of a far-right, God-fearing, immigrant- hating, equality-opposing politician. You know, a Republican.
Now, there’s nothing Trump can do that Byrne doesn’t support, including building this useless wall on the Southern border.
There was a time that Byrne was the adult in the room. He would analyze a situation, look at as many sides as there were to look at, then make a decision based on what was best for the state instead of what was best to keep his butt in office.
No more of that.
Just this week, Byrne showed what a sycophant he is in his guest column published by Alabama Political Reporter. This week’s column wasn’t an anomaly; just the latest in Trump suck up from the First District congressman.
Parroting Trump, Byrne blamed Democrats – just now in control – for the failure to fund the stupid wall. Byrne was in the majority party for years before Democrats took over the House in January, and Republicans never funded the wall.
Byrne also backs Trump’s Fake National Emergency declaration, even though it’s a clear end around Congress and the U.S. Constitution both Trump and Byrne swore to uphold.
“Ensuring the safety of the American people is a fight worth fighting,” writes Byrne in his Trump propaganda column this week, “and while I wish it hadn’t come to this point, the Democrats have left Trump with no choice. We must secure the border and build the wall.”
I call BS.
The biggest joke in Byrne’s most recent rant against Democrats is this: “We are a nation of laws, and they need to be enforced.”
I imagine, then, Byrne will be right up front when Articles of Impeachment are filed against Trump. No? Oh, yeah: “We are a nation of some laws, and some laws need to be enforced.”
I’d like to think Byrne is the only Trump sycophant in the Alabama congressional delegation, but there’s only one member of Alabama’s House delegation who isn’t a Trumper, and that’s the Seventh District Democrat, Terri Sewell.
But, truly, the state Legislature isn’t much better. Most lawmakers were elected to their positions spewing the kind of vitriol Trump loves, even if they preceded Trump. But Del Marsh knows better. The Senate president pro tem – really, the second most powerful elected official in Alabama after House Speaker Mac McCutcheon – was once one of those reasonable Republicans, one of the few we could depend on to be sane when sanity was required.
Now, however, Marsh is pushing a measure to put a box on Alabama’s state income tax form so that voters can check it off if they want to send $3 to help fund Trump’s border wall.
Alabama is one of the nation’s poorest states. Let’s check a box to fund mental health or children’s health insurance or responsible environmental enforcement. But help pay for a border wall that is nothing more than a worthless monument to a criminal president?
Where once reasonable Republicans like Byrne and Marsh are concerned, we can call BS, and we can SMH all day long, but nothing’s going to happen except our voices will turn hoarse and our necks will become sore.
Some days, I just have to LMAO to keep from crying.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political
Reporter. Email: [email protected]