In his latest column in the Inlander, entitled "Bipartisan Disgust", former Congressman George Nethercutt highlights the low voter confidence in elected officials, the less than civil discourse on their part and the ugliness of politics in general resulting in a severely divided electorate. And who is to blame? Why President Barack Obama, of course. Go figure. I want to focus on the path Mr Nethercutt takes to reach that conclusion.
Unethical behavior is not unique to either Democrats or Republicans. Both parties have had their share of those who have committed crimes, abused their position, etc.
It’s clear that voters can change their minds as frequently as Barack Obama can propose new government takeovers, but the disturbing trend in all political polling is that most Americans are disgusted with the state of government and quality of elected officials who make decisions for us in Washington, D.C. Sadly, voters are rightly skeptical of their motives, ethics and integrity.
How appropriate for Nethercutt to mention that voters are skeptical of elected officials' motives, ethics, and integrity. As a part of Nethercutt's successful effort to unseat Tom Foley, he emphasized Foley's opposition to term limits and promised to serve three terms. A promise he broke. Idaho's Helen Chenowith (R), also elected in 1994, made the same promise. She kept hers.
Despite the hard rhetoric of the past, the time-honored practices of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation with opponents over tough issues, and the ultimate resolution of political and philosophical differences for the public good, have given way to the abuses of power that now dominate the halls of government.
Let's have a look at the time-honored practice of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation that Mr Nethercutt and his fellow Republican congressmen took part in back in November of 2003. It was the Medicare Part D legislation. From the legislative history:
The bill came to a vote at 3 a.m. on November 22. After 45 minutes, the bill was losing, 219-215, with David Wu (D-OR-1) not voting. Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay sought to convince some of dissenting Republicans to switch their votes, as they had in June. Istook, who had always been a wavering vote, consented quickly, producing a 218-216 tally. In a highly unusual move, the House leadership held the vote open for hours as they sought two more votes. Then-Representative Nick Smith (R-MI) claimed he was offered campaign funds for his son, who was running to replace him, in return for a change in his vote from "nay" to "yea." After controversy ensued, Smith clarified no explicit offer of campaign funds was made, but that that he was offered "substantial and aggressive campaign support" which he had assumed included financial support.
About 5:50 a.m., convinced Otter and Trent Franks (AZ-2) to switch their votes. With passage assured, Wu voted yea as well, and Democrats Calvin M. Dooley (CA-20), Jim Marshall (GA-3) and David Scott (GA-13) changed their votes to the affirmative. But Brad Miller (D-NC-13), and then, Republican John Culberson (TX-7), reversed their votes from "yea" to "nay". The bill passed 220-215.
The Democrats cried foul, and Bill Thomas, the Republican chairman of the Ways and Means committee, challenged the result in a gesture to satisfy the concerns of the minority. He subsequently voted to table his own challenge; the tally to table was 210 ayes, 193 noes
Mr Nethercutt pines for those days of respectable discourse, compromise and accommodation. They weren't like today's abuses of power that now dominate the halls of government.
But the overwhelming subliminal message is that Barack Obama is to blame.