A good piece on the disconnect between Republican State-of-the-Union-responder Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
and her own district
The county’s unemployment rate was 30 percent above the national average last year. One in six people live below the poverty level. One in five are on food stamps. And the leading employer is government, providing 3,023 of the 9,580 nonfarm payroll jobs last year.
Given that picture, it would seem surprising that McMorris Rodgers voted to drastically cut food aid last year, and joined her party in resisting emergency benefits to the unemployed. She has been a leading strategist in the unrelenting Republican attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.
And yet, in her district, people are flocking to Obamacare — well beyond the national average. Though she has been screening town hall meetings to highlight only critics of the new law, her constituents are doing something entirely different in making their personal health decisions.
Which is a problem not just for McMorris Rodgers, but for most Republicans; the policies demanded by the party are often directly harmful to the actual constituents who keep them in office. The solution for this is, by and large, the solution we saw in McMorris Rodgers' State of the Union response. You say nothing, and you say nothing as generically as possible, and you hope and pray that nobody will point out that you have just spent so much time saying empty nothings that if you hadn't been taped to the couch by your camera crew, you'd have floated up and bumped your head on the ceiling. McMorris Rodgers gets quite a bit of credit for not dashing for a cup of water, or walking down a hallway with a sly grin that looked like she was about to announce the zombies have just taken Cleveland but everything would still be fine, or staring off into the void of space in the way that only Michele Bachmann has ever been quite able to perfect, but she did not present a Republican rebuttal, or plan, or even bedtime story for the children. There was no story there. There was no plan, and there was no plot.
If that doesn't work, of course, you can always just fib your way through it.
In response to a question from Blitzer about President Obama’s call for equal pay in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday and whether she is “with the President when he says that there should be laws mandating equal pay for equal work for women,” McMorris Rodgers, who gave the official Republican response, replied:
"Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Republicans and I support equal pay for equal work. My message last night was one about empowering everyone in this country, no matter what your background, no matter where you live, what corner of the country, no matter what your experiences are. We want you to have the opportunity for a better life."
But McMorris Rodgers actually voted against laws meant to address the pay disparity between men and women four times.
Of course she did. They all did. It's gotten to the point where you have to lie about the votes you take (the preferred approach is to say that you would have voted for that thing, but it was fatally flawed
, as in "Yes, I voted against that thing, four times in fact, but each of those bills was fatally flawed
in that voting for it would have gotten me on some conservative think tank's Naughty List, thus crippling my future fundraising attempts.") The constituency of a McMorris Rodgers is not, in other words, her constituency, but the people who give her money. And the people who actually give her money demand that poor people be screwed.
There's nothing new here, of course; you could say the same thing about most Republicans representing most districts for the last few decades, and the ability of the party to balance the demands of their donors with a rhetorical toolkit that still placates the social base has been the subject of many impressed books. But it's looking very tenuous, and on healthcare reform it's coming very close to breaking completely (see: Kentucky.) Their constituents are signing up for the plans, because the plans are better than the empty plan of "do nothing and like it" that party ideology demands of them, and the conspicuous break between public needs and party ideology is exactly why the party tried so very hard to kill healthcare reform before it began.