Kyl does well in a job he doesn’t need

Emil FranziSitting in Sen. Jon Kyl’s office waiting for my scheduled interview, I was struck at just how hard any senator is expected to work and how much time is spent doing it by those who, as most do, take their job seriously.

His rather typical day back home was tightly scheduled in 15-minute segments, ranging from media and constituent interviews to a ceremony awarding a Bronze Star to a deceased WW2 vet’s son. He was kept busy from an early morning radio interview to a 6 p.m. appearance with 800 Tea Party folks in Oro Valley.

Members of Congress receive $174,000 in salary and the same benefit package as other federal employees, phony e-mail blasts to the contrary notwithstanding. Prior to his first election to the U.S. House in 1986, Jon Kyl was one of the top attorneys in Arizona. He doesn’t need the job. Regardless of party, those who don’t tend to give you better government.

We all want members of Congress to “read the bills.” Someone who would read every word himself if possible, trust me, is Jon Kyl. He can’t, there’s simply too many. Kyl handles it by breaking bills into portions and sharing them with his staff, and also by sharing information with trusted colleagues. He specifically mentioned one of my favorites, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Kyl also is number two in the GOP Senate hierarchy, which further stretches his time commitment. I asked him to assess the 2010 Senate elections, and he named eight states where he felt the GOP had good to excellent chances of pick-ups along with holding current seats. He doesn’t bluster, that’s an honest assessment.

We went through the major issues, with health care at the top of the pile. Kyl observed that the process has been as damaging to the Democrat product as the product itself and noted that we have only seen the obvious pay-offs and have no idea what other commitments were traded for senators’ votes. He believes it’s not over yet, and that opponents should keep the heat up, particularly Arizonans who have three Democrat House members in marginal seats – Giffords, Kirkpatrick and Mitchell – who voted for it.

Jobs creation was next on Kyl’s list. He believes you don’t fight unemployment with more stimulus money to local governments, but by giving private industry including small business the stable economic environment necessary for them to expand and create jobs.

Jon KylKyl supports military efforts in Afghanistan and believes President Obama acted correctly if too slowly. Space prohibits listing the many other areas of this administration’s foreign policy he differs with.

Illegal immigration was on the minds of many at the Tea Party meeting. Kyl firmly believes that before any revision in policy occurs, securing the border by finishing the fence and hiring the as-promised additional Border Patrol officers is mandatory. He met with Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano prior to her confirmation to stress this, obviously without avail.

Watching Kyl in front of a Tea Party was edifying. How did an establishment GOP lawyer/senator do with all those supposed right-wing crazies? OV types aren’t atypical. Kyl treated them with respect, and they responded in kind.

He randomly selected questioners on any subject, unlike some colleagues who wanted them in writing and pre-screened them or, worse, were too craven to show up at all. His answers were succinct, responses were direct and occasionally not what the questioner wanted to hear. Kyl doesn’t pander, something the audience would have caught anyway.

TIME magazine rated both he and John McCain among the 10 most effective members of the United States Senate. It’s easy to understand why.


  1. Nice fluff piece.

    Jon Kyl voted for the assault weapons ban, for NAFTA and CAFTA, for the largest spending program in the history of the US at the time (Medicare Part D), for the even larger spending program in the history of the US (the first bailout).

    He is not supported by the Tea Party nor does he believe in it.

    He was GWB’s whip in the Senate on the 2006 amnesty bill.

    Sounds like just another Dem in R clothing.

    Emil, you and the emporer have no clothes.

  2. Calling someone a D in Rs clothing because you disagree with several of his votes is absurd. What two people agree on everything? Jon Kyl has fought the fight and done more for conservative principles than just about anyoen elected to the Senate. If you disagree with some of his votes, fine. Undoubtedly, he’s made some bad votes since 1985, but to trash a decent man and question his GOP bonafides is reckless. He’s also had to answer to voters for all those votes you mentioned and was easily returned to office. Your refelxive opposition to free trade (something Reagan championed by the way) puts you in league with Pat Buchanan. Fine, but Buchanan has associated with the likes of uber-nut Leonora Fulani and his position on free trade has been endorsed by the American Socialist Party. So, by your own logic you must be a socialist or a nut. Of course, that’s absurd, but so is your criticism of Kyl.

  3. Stephen Kohut says

    For the last month a large group of conservative PC’s from five, yes count them five, counties have been foramlly requesting a meeting with Kyl to discuss the GOP’s spineless opposition to healthcare and other damaging legislation from the Obama/Reid/Pelosi wacked out left. We wanted to address his statements that he and the GOP Senators “did everything they could to stop the HC bill” when we have Sen. Gregg’s Minority Rights memo date 12/1/09 with pages of what they should have and could have done but didn’t do. When Kyl’s DC staff was asked repeatedly about it they responded it “would be seen as obstructionist”, “would not be productive”, “would upset the 200 year decorum of the Senate”, “would ….”

    Is Kyl a conservative? No. Will he get opposition from the party’s conservative grassroots, Tea partiers, etc. when he comes up for reelection in 2012? Probably unless we gets it together on illegal immigration and other major issues where he is badly out of step.

  4. Emil Franzi says

    Mr. Kohut. thank you for using your real name.

    I’m at a loss to fully grasp your issue here so perhaps you can expand upon it. You accuse Senator Kyl of weak opposition to Obamacare, but I believe Nancy Pelosi just threw in the towel after the Scott Brown election.

    We won. We won because Senators McConnell and Kyl did a great job of herding cats. They did what I never thought was possible – held the Squishies like Snowe and gave us 40 votes. Without that part, there never would’ve been a 41.

    Your claim that their opposition was inadequate is now based on what?

    I also find a disconnect in claiming tactical disagreement on handling an issue somehow disqualifies one from being a conservative. Since the tactical choices made by Senator Kyl were ultimately successful, by that logic the person who is not a real conservative is you.


  5. Stephen Kohut says


    We got saved due to the miracle in MA., that unexpected 41st vote. I and many other PC’s were on the phone with Kyl’s DC staff for hours in December with Sen. Gregg’s memo in hand. Kyl’s staff admitted that if the GOP had required the bill and every amendment to be read 3 times as they could have there would not have been a vote until after President’s Day at the earliest and maybe even Easter if they had demanded hard quorum calls as well. They let it get too soon and too easily to a vote they lost and the bill went to the House. If they had indeed “done everything they could” as identified by Sen. Gregg we would not have needed the MA miracle when we did. When you go to war you use every tool available. This is not a hand of bridge at the county club. This is a war for the very heart and soul of the country and I will not tolerate being told “we did everything we could” when it is false on its face. The factually correct and much less politically palletable statement would have been for Kyl to say “we did everthing we were willing to do.”

Leave a Reply