Monday, July 10, 2006

"Silly Season Issues" from the House GOP Leadership

Four years ago, the following exchange took place in a debate between Charles Bass and challenger Katrina Swett:

Swett: "Mr. Bass, I have a very simple question for you, why have you repeatedly opposed efforts to close the Bermuda loophole?"

Bass: "Well, Katrina, this is one of those campaign season issues- I call them silly season issues - that the Dems are using all across the country in every single campaign."

That Bass sure doesn’t have much use for “silly” campaign season issues, does he? Why, he's even got a name for them!

So what does this supposedly-moderate Republican have to say when it’s his own party resorting to such laughable tactics?

An article in Saturday’s New York Times details the unhappiness of some moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives over their own party’s recently-announced “American Values Agenda.”

These “American Values” shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to politics over the last few election years:

Besides a potential series of votes on family tax breaks, the legislative lineup for the weeks ahead included initiatives that would prohibit any government from using federal money to confiscate guns during emergencies; ensure that local governments do not have to pay damages or lawyer fees in court battles over public expressions of religion, and protect the Pledge of Allegiance from being found unconstitutional.

The agenda also includes a measure to ban human cloning and one requiring that those performing late-term abortions inform women seeking the procedure that the fetus could feel pain and could receive anesthesia. House Republican leaders also plan a vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, even though it could not be adopted in this Congress because it has already been rejected by the Senate.

How surprising that the Republicans would be cynically playing to their very wingnuttiest base, even if it involves throwing some of their own under a bus. The Times article quotes a few moderate Republicans sticking their heads out from under the bus to oppose this strategy:

"It was stupid and gross," said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. "They have this obsession to satisfy conservative Republicans who will probably be re-elected no matter what happens. They get job satisfaction, but they are making it more difficult for me to win my race."

Representative Mike Castle of Delaware is also critical, as is Jonathan Stevens of the Republican Main Street Partnership.

But how are Shays and Castle actually going to vote on these measures? Shays was reportedly

so upset by the leadership's agenda that he skipped a meeting of House Republicans rather than risk losing his temper over the initiatives.

I guess he wasn’t willing to stand up against this agenda in private – what’s he going to do for the public record? And does he oppose it only strategically, because it makes it difficult for him to win his race, or can we look forward to him leading an attempt to re-assert the tradition of moderate Republicans he supposedly represents?

As for Bass, it would hardly be fair to condemn him for not speaking out against this “silly” tactic in the Times article, since there’s no reason to believe they asked him for comment. And it’s unlikely he’d have done so on his campaign website, since that hasn’t been updated in two years. His official House website has had a few items added, but this one hasn’t made it. But how will he be voting on these issues? And more to the point, will he be condemning the campaign season silliness of his own party’s leadership as he mocked Democratic issues four years ago?

1 Comments:

Blogger Keener said...

The biggest thing we have to do, as progressives, is erode the fiscal conservative image that Charlie has.

I think the core of NH's voters are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

The Schiavo thing is a great example of the foot-kissing Charlie has to do to keep his party card on the social side.

I want to find something Schiavo-level on the fiscal conservative side that shows no matter what Charlie may believe on the deficit he's still a Repub, and hence part of the problem. Can anybody help?

BTW -- H1-B visas. Very touchy subject here in NH, check out my site to see where "Friend of the American Worker" Charlie Bass comes down on that.

8:49 AM  

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