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Be more like Chuck

Chronicle Guest View

December 5, 2019
By John Gaps , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I begin with a personal story.

A few weeks back, when the EPA (and White House) were messing around with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and the very lives of rural Iowans, I called the D.C. offices of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. A very nice staffer took my question about what the Senator was going to do about it and took my number.

You think I heard back from them any time soon? No way. It took almost 30-minutes before the phone rang. I got a quote and some insider info that the Senator had gone right to the Oval Office, right to the nice Berber in the middle of the room and body slammed President Trump. It broke the Eisenhower coffee table and dented the Obama karaoke machine.

Article Photos

John Gaps III

Pretty soon, the RFS was restored to pre-Trump Stupidity standards and Iowa corn farmers were able to pull their heads out of the oven. Grassley, never to mince words, said Trump and EPA had "screwed" Iowans. Trump listened and that was that.

30-minutes. Hell, my 30-minute pizza takes 45. What's wrong with Grassley's office? I still have about a dozen voice, written, emailed messages in to talk with the Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price and STILL HAVEN'T HEARD BACK. Of course they aren't elected officials so being lazy and arrogant has no consequences.

Here's another story.

Flying out of the Des Moines International Airport one pleasant Sunday afternoon, I was cruising by the great unwashed in the TSA Express Lane (cost $85 for three or four years, or $100 for five years of bypassing). Waiting in the crowd with Mr. & Mrs. Coach Class was Senator Grassley. I got to the TSA agents and pointed out our Senator to them. They had him come up and he got to keep his shoes on during the mag check. No big deal.

We chatted, I told him about all the movies I was destroying out in Hollywood and he said he had a SAG card (Screen Actors Guild) because he had shown up in the movie Traffic and a few others. I joked that maybe I'd find him some work in an upcoming project I was trying to get out of development. "No nudity though," I assured him. He laughed, we exchanged cards and that was that.

A week later I get a personal, handwritten note, thanking me for my courtesy at the airport. Geez. And I really don't like his politics one bit. He's a starchy old cuss, he's so Republican he won't wear blue socks and I'm sure, somewhere, he has a book of Green Stamps tucked away, just in case they make a comeback. Personally he's a gentleman, and he just LOVES IOWA. That's no secret.

So, I got to thinking, here's a Senator that's represented Iowa since the Bronze Age. He's been through Republican contraction and Democratic high tides, and always survived. I think I may have even voted for him back in my drinking days one November.

Ignoring many of the despicable positions (and there are a bushel basket full) he's taken over the years not to mention the Merrick Garland atrocity, I thought about what it was about him that makes moderates and some Democrats comfortable about returning him to Washington every six years.

I started cherry-picking Grassley and wondered if the current crop of Democratic Candidates running for president and campaigning ahead of the Iowa Caucus, could learn something from him. I checked in with some of my Democratic friends, who seemed sucker punched when I'd open up the phone call with, "Say something positive about Charles Grassley."

There would be a short pause, and then they were able to come up with something cogent. And then they'd start into the laundry list of what they didn't like. But, no, I just wanted to hear about a quality that stands out.

The Democrat with the closest set of qualities of Grassley is former Governor Tom Vilsack. Both are personally above reproach and LOVE IOWA and Iowans, to a pleasant fault.

Here are the Grassley words that come back, time and time again.

Loyal, Honorable, Hard-working, Steadfast, Friendly, Approachable ("he's very non-partisan when addressing the hardships of his constituency" said one independent.)

Here are a few others I'll throw in. He listens. If you have his attention, he is present. It is impossible not to like him one-on-one. In fact, if he has a little time over Thanksgiving he'd be welcome at my big Democratic family's big dinner out in West Des Moines two weeks from now. I doubt we'll have to prepare a vegan plate for him.

Remember now, I hate politicians. Their world of value-addled variance and the constant orbit of sycophants turns my stomach. And Grassley and I could find a multitude of things to disagree on. If he shows for dinner I have a couple of family members who are closeted Republicans and would gladly offer him seconds of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Oh, and there's this:

Recently Grassley issued a statement in sharp contrast to the White House's efforts to unmask the whistleblower in the Ukraine affair.

"This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers," said our Senior Senator.

Hard to hate the guy. Democrats in the presidential race should pay attention to that.

 
 
 

 

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