Politician division, COVID and Supreme Court nominations were among the issues on Sen. Jim Inhofe's mind when he stopped in Claremore this week to provide an update from D.C.
Of all the issues facing the nation today, Inhofe said he believes military spending is of the highest importance to Oklahomans.
Due to cuts in military spending in prior administration, Inhofe said, "for the first time since WWII, this is my analysis, we allowed China and Russia to have some systems better than we have. Now, we have more than they do, but still. In hypersonic they're actually ahead of us, both Russia and China."
He added, "my major concern is, you could argue that we're in the most dangerous position we've been in in the history of this country. Since WWII we've never been in the position where two of our major adversaries have things we don't have."
Supreme Court of the United States
Inhofe said the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States "is a sure thing, a guarantee" and he doesn't think COVID will have any impact.
"First of all, I don't have the insight I should have into the president's condition. It's mostly what he's said publicly…But you can see by looking at him that he's bouncing back," Inhofe said. "So it certainly won't concern things with Amy. She now has the support of all but maybe one of the republicans–the one being Susan Collins. And I don't know that for sure, but maybe. Susan is always going to lose, but she never loses. She's a delightful person. Right now they're thinking she's not going to win the election, but I think she is. Nevertheless, she may end up voting against."
Inhofe said high-ranking republicans contracting COVID-19 will not compromise the vote for Coney Barrett as she still "has the majority."
Voting representation for D.C
"It could happen. The democrats all want a voting representation for D.C because that would be four guaranteed liberal democrat United States senators and that, in their eyes, that could be in the foreseeable future," he said.
When asked if there are, for the residents of Washington D.C., any advantages to being declared a state so that they can have voting representation to congress, Inhofe said, "Oh yea, for the people, yeah. But it's a 100 percent partisan issue. We can be criticized for that but nonetheless it's something that has been there for a long period of time. We know the arguments for why it should and shouldn't be but I don't think it's going to change."
"What's happened with COVID has never happened before in history. No one ever dreamed, I never dreamed that could happen. A lot of the democrats thought there was a way you could blame our president for that. And yet he's doing well compared to other countries," Inhofe said. "I think it's important for the people in America to know the president has done a good job in facing this crisis."
On the question of messaging surrounding the recovery from COVID and access to vaccines, Inhofe said: "That's the responsibility of people like me, to make sure we're ahead of the game….I have no doubt we can respond just as fast as anyone else can."
He added, "Walter Reed is getting a lot of publicity but the president of the United States deserves the best treatment…We don't all go there but we're watching in our area. Rural hospitals are hurting."
When asked about the cure for division in our highly-charged, highly-politicized state as a country, Inhofe said, "Something that happens here that doesn't happen anywhere else is that we have this political system. And people are critical of it. When you stop think about it on one side of the street you have democrats and the other side you have republicans. They get together in precinct meetings to decide what they stand for and they pass resolutions on that. As you start with the local meeting, then county, then district, then state, all the way to national party meetings, as you go up the ladder the democrats become more extreme on the liberal side and republicans become more extreme on the conservative side. There are core issues…things that divide the party, it shows the difference."
He continued, "There's a good side of this. Whether you deny it or accept it, you're going to be influenced by what your party tells you because that's how you get elected."
"It's not all that bad," Inhofe said. "because there is a difference between parties."
He said the division is a byproduct of a two-party system, not a problem to be fixed.
When asked if the gap is wider or more extreme now than in previous elections, Inhofe said, "I don't think it's changed that much. You have those gut issues that each party would stand for and they're not that different than when I was first elected…The main thing that's changed is that the republican party is the dominant party."