Commentary Magazine


Topic: Parker Griffith

Is It Too Hard to Say No?

As the final arms were twisted, the Slaughter Rule was thrown overboard, and both sides strained to count the last undecided votes, The Hill reported:

Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.), who switched from the Democratic Party in December over disagreement with party policies, ripped Democratic leadership and the White House on Saturday for pressuring members to push healthcare reform through.

“There are some good, good congresswomen and congressmen who are being asked to sacrifice their career and it’s a mistake for them to accept this sacrifice on the part of President Obama or Nancy Pelosi,” Griffith said on Fox News. “It is a huge mistake.

“These are good people and they’re being pressured unmercifully right now,” he continued. “I saw it on the floor 20 minutes ago before I walked into this studio. I could see it on their faces. These are people I’ve known over a year and it’s unfortunate, it’s unfair. And what’s unfair about it is Obama doesn’t hardly know their name. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t hardly know their name. They’re good for a vote and once they cast that vote it’s will you love me tomorrow and the answer is no.”

Griffith has a point, but only so far. Pelosi and Obama don’t care if many of these people lose their seats. And, yes, they are pulling out all the stops — threatening, cajoling, arm-twisting, deal-cutting, and the rest. But wait. These members are adults. They know their own constituents and can read the polls. They know that the public overwhelmingly opposes the bill. And moreover, they know the very real substantive objections to the bill. Whether it is the gross fiscal irresponsibility, the corrupt deals, or the abortion subsidies, they have good and valid reasons to hold out.

If they can’t stand up to their own leaders or avoid the lure of plum jobs should they lose in November, this is no cause for sympathy. It’s reason for contempt. It’s one thing to vote for a monstrous bill because you actually believe it virtuous. It’s another, however, to vote for it anyway, knowing the harm it may do but supporting it regardless because you couldn’t tell Nancy Pelosi to take a hike. Those people deserve to lose in November. And many of them will.

As the final arms were twisted, the Slaughter Rule was thrown overboard, and both sides strained to count the last undecided votes, The Hill reported:

Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.), who switched from the Democratic Party in December over disagreement with party policies, ripped Democratic leadership and the White House on Saturday for pressuring members to push healthcare reform through.

“There are some good, good congresswomen and congressmen who are being asked to sacrifice their career and it’s a mistake for them to accept this sacrifice on the part of President Obama or Nancy Pelosi,” Griffith said on Fox News. “It is a huge mistake.

“These are good people and they’re being pressured unmercifully right now,” he continued. “I saw it on the floor 20 minutes ago before I walked into this studio. I could see it on their faces. These are people I’ve known over a year and it’s unfortunate, it’s unfair. And what’s unfair about it is Obama doesn’t hardly know their name. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t hardly know their name. They’re good for a vote and once they cast that vote it’s will you love me tomorrow and the answer is no.”

Griffith has a point, but only so far. Pelosi and Obama don’t care if many of these people lose their seats. And, yes, they are pulling out all the stops — threatening, cajoling, arm-twisting, deal-cutting, and the rest. But wait. These members are adults. They know their own constituents and can read the polls. They know that the public overwhelmingly opposes the bill. And moreover, they know the very real substantive objections to the bill. Whether it is the gross fiscal irresponsibility, the corrupt deals, or the abortion subsidies, they have good and valid reasons to hold out.

If they can’t stand up to their own leaders or avoid the lure of plum jobs should they lose in November, this is no cause for sympathy. It’s reason for contempt. It’s one thing to vote for a monstrous bill because you actually believe it virtuous. It’s another, however, to vote for it anyway, knowing the harm it may do but supporting it regardless because you couldn’t tell Nancy Pelosi to take a hike. Those people deserve to lose in November. And many of them will.

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Who Responds?

The person selected to respond to the State of the Union has a rough time. There is no competing with the pomp and excitement of the president in a prime-time appearance before Congress, the Supreme Court, the cabinet officials, and all the honored guests. Usually, the unlikely recipient of this “honor” gets awful reviews. (Think Tim Kaine’s odd-eye brow appearance and Bobby Jindal’s presidential buzz-halting performance.) So who should do the honors this year?

Bill Kristol recommends an ordinary American fed up with Obama’s agenda, maybe a doctor. There are lots of good possibilities. Perhaps Rep. Parker Griffith could do the honors, explaining why he couldn’t stomach a party that would behave so irresponsibly on health care. The Republicans might have a cancer survivor like Carly Fiorina explain why empowering bureaucrats to ration care is a bad idea. The Republicans might have Dick Cheney replay his face-off against Obama from earlier in the year, updating it for the subsequent dreadful decisions on KSM’s trial and the moving of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Joining him could be Debra Burlingame and other 9/11 family members, talking about the lunacy of giving KSM a public forum to preach jihadism. Or the Republicans could have a bipartisan evening, inviting Rep. Bart Stupak to talk about abortion subsidies and Jane Hamsher to talk about paying for health-care “reform” on the backs of the middle class.

There are a lot of options because, frankly, Obama has made many, many bad calls. It will be up to the Republicans to see in 2010 if they can find effective spokespeople to make the case to the American people — who at least for now seem awfully receptive to each of the messages I suggested. In fact, Americans poll overwhelming in the GOP’s favor on all of these items. And that, no doubt, is why Republicans are looking forward to a successful 2010 election year.

The person selected to respond to the State of the Union has a rough time. There is no competing with the pomp and excitement of the president in a prime-time appearance before Congress, the Supreme Court, the cabinet officials, and all the honored guests. Usually, the unlikely recipient of this “honor” gets awful reviews. (Think Tim Kaine’s odd-eye brow appearance and Bobby Jindal’s presidential buzz-halting performance.) So who should do the honors this year?

Bill Kristol recommends an ordinary American fed up with Obama’s agenda, maybe a doctor. There are lots of good possibilities. Perhaps Rep. Parker Griffith could do the honors, explaining why he couldn’t stomach a party that would behave so irresponsibly on health care. The Republicans might have a cancer survivor like Carly Fiorina explain why empowering bureaucrats to ration care is a bad idea. The Republicans might have Dick Cheney replay his face-off against Obama from earlier in the year, updating it for the subsequent dreadful decisions on KSM’s trial and the moving of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Joining him could be Debra Burlingame and other 9/11 family members, talking about the lunacy of giving KSM a public forum to preach jihadism. Or the Republicans could have a bipartisan evening, inviting Rep. Bart Stupak to talk about abortion subsidies and Jane Hamsher to talk about paying for health-care “reform” on the backs of the middle class.

There are a lot of options because, frankly, Obama has made many, many bad calls. It will be up to the Republicans to see in 2010 if they can find effective spokespeople to make the case to the American people — who at least for now seem awfully receptive to each of the messages I suggested. In fact, Americans poll overwhelming in the GOP’s favor on all of these items. And that, no doubt, is why Republicans are looking forward to a successful 2010 election year.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Among the dopier things written about the health-care debate is this rant accusing the Senate Republicans of wimping out on health care. Other than running a filibuster during a snow storm. . . oh wait, they did that . . .  trying to filibuster a defense bill  . . . oh wait, they did that . . . and making every conceivable argument before voting unanimously to oppose the bill, it is hard to imagine what 40 senators could have done differently. But maybe it’s a fund-raising gambit or something.

Turns out that the savvy Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got something for easing up on the final vote schedule: “One, come early January, they’ll be able to get a vote on giving TARP money back to the Treasury. Two, they’ll be able to get a vote on Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution to stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. Both of these votes will come before the president’s State of the Union address.”

Meanwhile Jane Hamsher does something useful: goes on Fox (where the viewers are) to call for the defeat of ObamaCare.

Jim Prevor finds restaurant regulations buried in the health-care bill: “When did we have the national debate that disclosures with our tuna-salad sandwiches from the supermarket deli are urgently required? When did we discuss that diverting resources to pastrami-on-pumpernickel is prudent — and if the health-care bill deals with such minutiae, what else is hidden in its pages? And how could any ‘leader’ worthy of the name risk voting for it before we know what is even in the bill?”

Good thing we don’t have a problem with hiring and economic growth: “Companies are alarmed at potentially costly provisions in the Senate health-care bill, many of which they hope will be scrapped during a final round of negotiations early next year.” Oh, wait, that’s right: “Across the spectrum, businesses worry that a series of new taxes and fees to pay for expanding health-care coverage will push up premiums, particularly for smaller employers.”

In the Brave New World of terrorist criminal law, Major Nadal Hasan’s lawyer crabs that his client can’t speak from his jail cell to outsiders unless an interpreter is present to hear what he is saying. Well, “isn’t Mr. Hasan, like Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?”

I think this will be in a campaign ad or two: “News from the Obama re-alignment watch: Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith announced yesterday that he plans to switch parties and become a Republican. At a press conference, the oncologist-turned-politician said he could not continue to align himself with a Democratic Party pushing a health-care bill that is ‘bad for our doctors . . . bad for our patients, and . . . bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health-care field.’ Other than that, how do you like the bill?”

Turns out that Congress stiffed the Obami on funds to convert Thomson Correctional Center into the new, domestic Guantanamo. “The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.” Now they need to cut off funds for KSM’s trial.

Among the dopier things written about the health-care debate is this rant accusing the Senate Republicans of wimping out on health care. Other than running a filibuster during a snow storm. . . oh wait, they did that . . .  trying to filibuster a defense bill  . . . oh wait, they did that . . . and making every conceivable argument before voting unanimously to oppose the bill, it is hard to imagine what 40 senators could have done differently. But maybe it’s a fund-raising gambit or something.

Turns out that the savvy Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got something for easing up on the final vote schedule: “One, come early January, they’ll be able to get a vote on giving TARP money back to the Treasury. Two, they’ll be able to get a vote on Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution to stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions. Both of these votes will come before the president’s State of the Union address.”

Meanwhile Jane Hamsher does something useful: goes on Fox (where the viewers are) to call for the defeat of ObamaCare.

Jim Prevor finds restaurant regulations buried in the health-care bill: “When did we have the national debate that disclosures with our tuna-salad sandwiches from the supermarket deli are urgently required? When did we discuss that diverting resources to pastrami-on-pumpernickel is prudent — and if the health-care bill deals with such minutiae, what else is hidden in its pages? And how could any ‘leader’ worthy of the name risk voting for it before we know what is even in the bill?”

Good thing we don’t have a problem with hiring and economic growth: “Companies are alarmed at potentially costly provisions in the Senate health-care bill, many of which they hope will be scrapped during a final round of negotiations early next year.” Oh, wait, that’s right: “Across the spectrum, businesses worry that a series of new taxes and fees to pay for expanding health-care coverage will push up premiums, particularly for smaller employers.”

In the Brave New World of terrorist criminal law, Major Nadal Hasan’s lawyer crabs that his client can’t speak from his jail cell to outsiders unless an interpreter is present to hear what he is saying. Well, “isn’t Mr. Hasan, like Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?”

I think this will be in a campaign ad or two: “News from the Obama re-alignment watch: Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith announced yesterday that he plans to switch parties and become a Republican. At a press conference, the oncologist-turned-politician said he could not continue to align himself with a Democratic Party pushing a health-care bill that is ‘bad for our doctors . . . bad for our patients, and . . . bad for the young men and women who are considering going into the health-care field.’ Other than that, how do you like the bill?”

Turns out that Congress stiffed the Obami on funds to convert Thomson Correctional Center into the new, domestic Guantanamo. “The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.” Now they need to cut off funds for KSM’s trial.

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Is It Popular Yet?

The Democrats are convinced that ObamaCare will be their ticket to political survival, the only way of avoiding a 2010 wipeout. So far, it doesn’t look that way. From Rasmussen: “Republican candidates now have an eight-point lead over Democrats, their biggest lead of the year, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.” And the president?

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 25% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That’s the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. Fifty-six percent (56%) now disapprove.

To top it off, Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith leaves the 258-seat Democratic majority to join the “party of no.” His reason? Health care. Honest. He says that “he can no longer align himself ‘with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt.’ ” Will there be others?

More important, there will be a conference committee and final votes in the House and most likely the Senate (unless the unaltered Senate bill can be jammed down the throats of the House members). In a week or so, this could look like a political debacle. But it’s an avoidable one. And congressmen and senators don’t need to do something as dramatic as leaving their party. They can simply vote no.

The Democrats are convinced that ObamaCare will be their ticket to political survival, the only way of avoiding a 2010 wipeout. So far, it doesn’t look that way. From Rasmussen: “Republican candidates now have an eight-point lead over Democrats, their biggest lead of the year, in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.” And the president?

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows that 25% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-six percent (46%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -21. That’s the lowest Approval Index rating yet recorded for this President. … Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. Fifty-six percent (56%) now disapprove.

To top it off, Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith leaves the 258-seat Democratic majority to join the “party of no.” His reason? Health care. Honest. He says that “he can no longer align himself ‘with a party that continues to pursue legislation that is bad for our country, hurts our economy and drives us further and further into debt.’ ” Will there be others?

More important, there will be a conference committee and final votes in the House and most likely the Senate (unless the unaltered Senate bill can be jammed down the throats of the House members). In a week or so, this could look like a political debacle. But it’s an avoidable one. And congressmen and senators don’t need to do something as dramatic as leaving their party. They can simply vote no.

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