Taking Stock with a Champion of Freedom

by Jay Nordlinger

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the congresswoman from Miami. As regular readers know, she is also one of my favorite people in public life (and in life). She is an untiring champion of freedom, democracy, and human rights — for people in her native Cuba and people all over, without exception. She does not want for herself and her loved ones what she does not want for others — for you and yours.

A member of Congress since 1989, she is retiring at the end of this session. I went to Capitol Hill to do a podcast with her, along with Scott Immergut, the producer extraordinaire, commonly known as “Blue Yeti.” Our podcast is here.

We were in the congresswoman’s office — which has dogs, babies, and general good cheer. This is a family atmosphere. There is a mixture of English and Spanish. Ileana seems den mother to all. People of various types come in and out.

As I remark on the podcast — and she does, too — no one ever enjoyed being a member of Congress more than Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She even enjoys the fundraising. As for those who are grumpy about being congressmen, she says, “Why don’t they find something else to do? Find their joy?”

In our Q&A, I ask her why she is leaving, of course. I ask her about Cuba, about Miami, and about her family. (Her husband is a Vietnam vet — wounded — and one of their children is transgender.)

I also ask her about presidents: Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and Trump. And about House speakers: Gingrich, Hastert, Boehner, Pelosi, and Ryan.

Toward the end, we talk about the health of American institutions — including Ros-Lehtinen’s party, the GOP. She is ever ebullient, a happy warrior if there ever was one. In this podcast, she is candid, informed, and delightful. Whatever your politics, I think you will enjoy.

Again, here.

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