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John Waelti: Republicans - no longer falling in the party line
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Some 15 months until the general election and the antics are unbelievable. Readers will think of more appropriate adjectives for the exercise.

Archaic standards no longer apply, including one of my favorites, "Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line."

Surely, no longer. We have just seen the unbelievable - a freshman U.S. senator accusing the powerful Senate leader of lying. No, this was not a Republican attacking a Democrat; it was freshman Texas senator, Ted Cruz, blasting Republican majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, over the Export-Import Bank, not exactly the paramount issue on voters' minds.

So much for the vaunted decorum of what is characteristically billed as "the world's greatest deliberative body," where respect for each other is the hallmark, and personal attacks not tolerated.

But as a presidential candidate, Sen. Cruz has his own agenda. While he gains attention in that crowded field, it is surely at cost of his future legislative effectiveness. It's hard to see how, in addition to opposition by Democrats, he can accomplish anything as a legislator by angering his fellow Republicans including the most powerful. But that's his problem, of his own making.

Then we have The Donald, monopolizing attention by violating Ronald Reagan's dictum, "Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans." He is indeed tapping into a vein of discontent by breaking the rules and taking on "the establishment," including politicians and the media.

We'll see how this works in the longer run. But he even seems to have survived, more or less, anyway, his disparaging of Sen. John McCain and his service record, and POWs in general. Fellow Vietnam vet John Kerry quickly jumped to McCain's defense. I don't recall if McCain jumped to Kerry's defense when Kerry was accused by the Swift Boat crowd of not deserving of his purple hearts awarded during the Vietnam War. But as I recall, it was sort of lukewarm. Given the lousy treatment given to Vietnam vets at the time, I would expect them to stick up for each other, regardless of political differences.

In any case, while McCain was a POW, The Donald acknowledges that he was at home, making money and chasing gorgeous women. Sounds like good duty, preferable to being shot at by motivated Vietnamese soldiers resenting what they saw as foreign intrusion into their country.

Of course The Donald wasn't the only American who preferred staying home. Republicans, with plenty of help from the mainstream media, never let us forget that President Clinton was a "draft dodger." But somehow, the media - don't tell me it's "liberal" - spared worthies including Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney, and a long list of Republican armchair warriors from that pejorative label. Perhaps it was because, unlike Bill Clinton, these tough-talking, red-blooded worthies believed the war to be a terrific idea - as long as it could be viewed from safe distance. Hey, there was a war on - a guy could get hurt out there.

So we'll see how the other 15 Republican wannabes handle The Donald. Three options: fight back to get a little bit of the oxygen sucked up by the narcissistic one; ignore him, hoping he will go away; or butter him up, hoping to pick up some crumbs when he falls, fades, or fails.

In my opinion, there is one Republican, currently very low in the standings, who stands head and shoulders above the rest of that motley crew. He is the one Republican who I, as a card-carrying Democrat, would fear most heading the ticket. He is also the single Republican of that whole cabal for whom I have a great deal of respect.

While I surely don't agree with him on a lot of stuff, and would be wary of his right-wing appointees - surely he would be so pressured - I see Ohio's governor, John Kasich, as thoughtful, intelligent, and pragmatic, with a commendable track record. He has made his peace with organized labor and has support from Democratic regions of that crucial populous swing state. His concern for the working poor rings true, as he has accepted federal money under the Affordable Care Act, thereby increasing access to affordable health care for low-income citizens of his state.

If the Republicans want to maximize their chances of winning, they will have Kasich head the ticket. I doubt that they have sense enough to put him on top. Although the tea party will object, he would be the most strategic choice for second spot on the ticket for either of the two Floridians, or for any of the rest of that motley crew for that matter. I predict as much.

Unlike Kasich who has made his peace with labor and tends to be a "uniter," we have our Teflon-coated governor who touts his signature accomplishment as breaking the unions, and boasts of his successful "divide and conquer" strategy. Gov. Scott Walker's scandal-ridden record includes attempting to gut our world-class UW system, including removing public service and the search for truth from its statutory-embedded mission statement. It includes a ham-handed attempt to gut our open records law, something not even his gerrymandered Republican legislature could tolerate. His latest gambit is to gut Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board that overseas our elections.

He's opposed to bringing Iran into the world of nations, urging trashing the treaty negotiated by six powerful nations, including several of our European allies. He thoughtfully advises that the next president should be prepared to bomb Iran immediately upon attaining office. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Walker will fade, but even if Republicans are so obtuse as to have him top the ticket, he loses his home state.

Oklahoma cowboy sage Will Rogers famously observed, "I am a member of no organized political party; I am a Democrat."

Looks like the Republicans have finally caught up.

- John Waelti of Monroe, a retired professor of economics, can be reached at His column appears Fridays in The Monroe Times.