By Susan J. Demas
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Howell) looks tanned and rested since leaving office in January.
Last month, the former House Intelligence Committee chair headlined the Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ conference in Bellaire. While pitching his new radio show, “Something to Think About,” which he said airs on more than 160 stations nationwide, Rogers reiterated that he feels it’s a “bigger platform” than being in Congress.
While no one would have expected a former powerful committee head to say that a generation ago, it’s not exactly shocking as countless politicians now gripe that gridlock and hyper-partisanship have sapped the joy of serving. And you probably can influence the political debate from a nationally syndicated radio show perch than as a lone member of Congress, no matter how influential. Just ask Rush Limbaugh or Hugh Hewitt.
Rogers was always a folksy force on the stump, and was one of the best public speakers in the (ever-changing) Michigan delegation. He hasn’t lost his touch, as he animatedly talked and answered questions for 45 minutes at the MAB confab on national security, Congress and the presidential race. IMP was there to bring you some of his most notable comments.
On his new radio career:
“Thanks for lowering your standards and allowing me to become a broadcaster.”
“I was the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in charge of the 16 intelligence agencies of the United States, all their budgeting --- about $75 billion is the unclassified number. … Pretty amazing time; it really was. I was very, very fortunate to have the privilege to serve in that capacity and I enjoyed every minute of it --- and then got the notion and the opportunity to make the switch, to have a platform that was a little bit bigger.”
“I always tell people, ‘I am a recovering member of Congress and I have not made a fundraising phone call in over seven months.’”
“By the way, that was the quickest, most efficient parliamentary process [from the MAB] I think I’ve ever seen. If Congress would use this a little bit … and I think we’d all like to see that happen.”
“Congress now --- Republicans own both --- my pet peeve with them is they’re not doing anything. They can’t even agree amongst themselves to get anything done. I think that’s a huge problem. We’re so self-centered in this country. I’ve travelled all over the world and we’re self-centered if we think no one has kind of noticed that, ‘cause we’re Americans, right? They just notice that we’re tough. Problem is, they notice all of that. Matter of fact, more than most people. And I would hear about things that would happen in the [U.S.] House debates some time, and [I said], ‘My God, only my mother or you would know about that. Nobody watches those debates. Nobody watches CSPAN.’ They did. They know. They paid attention. … So we’re going to have to work on ourselves here. I believe we can. There’s no place like this.”
On political polarization:
“We can have our differences. We’re allowed to have political differences --- that’s all good. We showed the world --- in the old days --- that you can have political differences and still accomplish something --- good idea. Great idea. If we can get back to that, the world will get right back in the same place, and understand we’re [the United States] serious about being world leaders. That’s missing.”
“There doesn’t seem to be any real national leadership to say, ‘Let’s take a time out. We’re going to work on the issues around these problems, so we can get America back on its feet.’ That’s not happening. You see a lot of people saying, ‘It’s your fault. It’s your fault. You should pay for that and you should pay for that..’ I don’t see it. I don’t see that national leader. I haven’t seen that national leader yet. And we ought to challenge ourselves as Americans to find it.”
On Donald Trump:
“I wish I could tell you that this phenomenon with Donald Trump --- whatever you think of Donald Trump, he’s saying a lot of things that are resonating, but he’s done it in a pretty mean way. And it’s getting traction. And so that just wasn’t my style; that wasn’t who I was. Now as you’re watching the other candidates go, ‘Well, I guess mean is in. Let’s have at it.’”