Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has made a few waves with social media announcements this week. First, he said that he will not be seeking re-election or election to any political office in 2018. Then, he clarified that he may in fact leave office before his term is over.
Ostensibly, he wants to spend more time with his family. Some think there is an impending scandal. Still others think that he is clearing the way for a 2020 run in the election for Governor of Utah. Amid all the speculation about his motives, a fairly likely and sensible answer remains. What follows is a bit of gloating and an entirely speculative take at what may be fueling this announcement.
What is a partisan hatchet man to do if all the people in power are from his own party? Furthermore, what is he to do if a sizable cross-section of the public is crying out for him to open investigations into his party’s President? What was once a coveted spot as chair of the ethics and oversight committee in the House, is now a hot seat that no Republican in their right mind would want. It’s almost as bad as being Speaker.
There are no powerful Democrats left to drag in front of the media for a show trial. He tried a few times to say that he’s prepared to investigate Hillary for years, but that didn’t fly.
Chaffetz is in Utah. Donald Trump is quite unpopular in Utah. Evidence of that can be seen in the fact that independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin pulled in over 20% of the vote in the general election in Utah, even with a relatively late entry. It seems, of all the religious voting blocks out there, the only one that refused to navigate the cognitive dissonance required to purport Christian values but still vote for Trump was the Mormons. Go figure.
On the other hand, Chaffetz is facing angry crowds in town halls and other places as people look for him to do his job and open investigations into any of the million scandals that have come out of the Trump administration.
So, Chaffetz is faced with a decision between continuing to serve as the partisan hack we all know and love by refusing to investigate Trump ,which will not sit well with the angry mobs, OR investigate Trump, stem the hate from a good portion of the public, and risk alienating party leadership and Republican voters which would endanger his chances of being re-elected anyway. Continuing to put his fingers in his ears and failing to investigate Trump also runs the risk of making him a lightning rod and facing a possible situation where national money floods into his opponent’s coffers just to spite him.
It looks like Chaffetz is currently faced with zero courses of action that leave him likely to hold public office again. This is where his words, which were carefully chosen, become important and telling. He didn’t say that he’d never be seeking office again. In fact, he said that he might, but it won’t be in 2018. For now, he’ll be off to some corner of the private sector where he’ll doubtless collect a bloated salary for peddling influence or to repay past favors.
While Chaffetz will probably be back, we do have another departure to relish this week, and I’ll leave it as the parting note. After 20 years of hackish-talking head-BS, Bill O’Reilly is finally leaving. Who will forget his past hits like, “terrorist fist bump” and “Obama is taking a $200 million per day trip to India.”
As a parting shot, here is an incomplete list of some things O’Reilly said on air that illustrate just who he is as a person. The list is good, but it lacks any mention of his surprise when he went to a restaurant in Harlem and people asked politely for more iced tea.
O’Reilly will be on the bench for a while, but certainly will wind up somewhere bumping his gums about his out of date opinions. Chaffetz is going to pasture for a few years to collect money hand over fist from private sector people who probably owe him a ton of favors. But for now, it’ll be nice not to have their faces on the main stage for a while.