What would you call someone who built a home in the middle of nowhere, off the electrical grid and without a municipal or county water system so those nosy meter readers won’t be snooping around on your property?
What you call someone like that? Around here, in Kentucky’s 4th District, we call him Tom Massie. Congressman Tom Massie.
And while we tried our best to keep it quiet, in the short time he’s been in the House, Tommy is now a cause célèbre of the UN black helicopter-Good Housekeeping-certified crazy subset in the House of Representatives. And he can't be stopped.
Just how this happened is a perfect political storm.
The Fourth District is a poorly-educated, fact-challenged fundamentalist district that comprises Northern Kentucky. The district ambles along the Ohio River pretty much from the Louisville outskirts eastward to West Virginia. It’s 96% white, give or take a percent There’s a lively Tea Party presence. The local media is lazy, so there is no reporting on political issues, even the low-hanging ones. Add to that a strong Republican presence and a suburban-mentality Roman Catholic mindset. Finally, sprinkle in a half-million dollars raised in about five minutes from a Texas college student/trust fund baby/self-professed anarchist’s PAC. And when the moderate candidates cancelled each other out in the primary, Tom Massie had bought himself a primary victory. Since there are only three Democratic counties among the twenty or so counties making up the district, Massie went into hiding until after the election, making himself so invisible that most voters knew little about him.
Massie was actually elected twice on Election Day in November: once, to fill the unexpired term of conservative Rep. Geoff Davis, and next, to fill the current term. So he beat out the new members of the 2013 class by one month. The Speaker assigned him a pretty good slate of committee memberships—including Transportation and Infrastructure; Oversight and Government Reform; and Science, Space and Technology. The first assignment was huge. Northern Kentucky needs a new bridge spanning the Ohio River on I-75. It’s an issue that’s not without controversy, but Massie’s committee will be a player. And Science and Technology is a good fit. Massie has co-invented high-tech stuff and holds a Masters in Engineering from MIT, so he could theoretically make some contribution to that committee as well. And when Massie announced how happy he was over the appointments, the thought was, well, maybe he’s going to moderate some as a member of Congress.
Well, it was a thought. But not a very good one.
Though the Grim Weeper was helpful to Massie in his committee appointments, Massie chose to vote against the Speaker in his relection to the post. He was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against the speaker. And just to ensure the world that he just wants to play in his own sandbox, Massie instead case voted for Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who was thrown off the budget committee by Boehner a month earlier.
Notworthy is that Amash didn’t even vote for himself. Explaining why Massie chose to vote for a guy who didn’t vote for himself, Massie responded thusly:
Justin is a very principled Congressman, and really there were no other leaders to step forward and run for the position.But don’t worry. Massie will face no reprisals for his childish behavior, because Boehner said there wouldn’t be. So that’s settled.
Other key votes cast by Massie so far include voting against the fiscal cliff deal (didn’t address spending), and no on Hurricane Sandy relief (“They start putting pork in those bills.”)
But Massie’s most thoughtful work so far has been in the area of gun control in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Taking the language from a failed bill filled two years ago by his BFF’s old man, Rep. Ron Paul, Massie introduced a bill that would repeal the ban on carrying guns in a school zones. Because if your good-guy septuagenarian school crossing guard is packing, bad guys will do...what, exactly?