HART: What happened to bourbon and branch water?

Ron Hart
Ron Hart

“A jackass can kick a barn down, but it cannot build anything.”

Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, D-TX

For the kids out there, once upon a time Democrats and Republicans worked together for the betterment of the country. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. Back then, you could be a Republican and read a book by Trotsky, or watch the movie "Dr. Zhivago" and not have to lawyer up afterwards.

Probably less surprising, bourbon was the reason compromises such as getting Democrats on board with the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s happened. There once lived a powerful Texas congressman named Sam Rayburn, who rose to become Speaker of the House. After rancorous debates on the House floor on the divisive issues of the day, he would invite his embattled colleagues from both sides of the aisle back to his office for his favorite drink, bourbon and branch water.

Plied with booze, they would open up, learn what each side really could compromise on, and get deals done for the voters. Back then we had a two-party system that would party. Today, the echo chamber of the left and right just hardens members' opinions on issues, making compromise elusive. Our current two-party system? MSNBC and Fox.

Today, the only thing the Republicans and Democrats can agree on is how mad they are at Kathy Griffin for holding up that mock severed head of the president. Republicans are annoyed that she threatened a sitting president, and Democrats are upset because the head was not really Trump’s.

So how can Trump, a man who does not drink (always a problem), reach out with a branch of branch water to the Dems and even RINO Republicans to get things done? Keep in mind, bin Laden did not drink, nor did Sen. Harry Reid or Hitler.

Imagine if Trump did drink. Yikes! Drunk Tweeting would be even more interesting. The "Send" button gets much bigger late at night when you are drunk.

Now everything is partisan and confusing. Democrats used to love Russians and their communist/socialistic ideologies. Now they hate Russia because Trump might be getting along with Putin. If Hillary got along with Putin, she’d have a Nobel Peace Prize by now. Now Dems love China, because they disingenuously said they will stay in the non-binding Paris Climate Change Accords.

Dems seem to find more satisfaction in hurting their opponents with the politics of personal destruction than in governing. "SNL" and the media found pleasure in making a cartoon of White House Spokesman Sean Spicer, thus forcing his resignation. It was the first resignation letter ever written in all caps. But be careful what you wish for. Dems will find that his replacement, Anthony Scaramucci, a smart former co-worker of mine and friend, will be a more formidable presence than Spicer.

The focus groups now tell Democrats they need an actual message. So they stole their new rebranding message from Papa John’s Pizza: “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.” Clearly, their new message is an attempt to make voters think of FDR’s New Deal, the glory days of using a crisis to grow the power of government and raise taxes.

A syndicated op-ed humorist, award winning author and TV/radio commentator, you can reach him at or Twitter @RonaldHart.