Representative LaTourette: A Man in the Middle Torn Apart

Among the many obstacles we face in saving our ship of state from sinking is our mixed minds about our elected officials.   The more frustrated we get with inaction, the more we want to throw the bums out, but then tend to replace them with others who have such a disdain for compromise that they make matters worse.  Can you spell “Tea Party”?

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care r...

Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care reform bill in St. Paul, Minnesota  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, our politics are a mess, with monied interests having more influence than ever, but the idea that the Tea Party has answers to our dilemma is  delusional, even if you are as smart as George Will.

The conservative columnist was positively aglow yesterday at the Texas Senatorial primary victory of Ted Cruz, a Tea Party candidate with uncharacteristically impressive academic credentials, over a fellow conservative Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who had the solid backing of the state’s Republican apparatus.  Actually, part of his problem may have been he had too much backing, “as Tea Partyers and other conservatives look askance at persons who play too well with others,” according to Will.

The columnist used this opportunity to take us back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt and his trying to play fast and loose with our constitution, one indication of how progressives have no, or at least insufficient, respect for the limits of that cherished document.   To Will, electing Cruz to the Senate – to join the likes of Jim DeMint and Marco Rubio, will help ” preserve the Constitution from capricious majorities.”

I wonder whether it ever occurs to Will and other proud protectors of the constitution that they, the Tea Party in this case, would never have been able to come up with a constitution themselves.   Even the sophisticated Will conveniently ignores the complex combination of compromises required to create that hallowed document.  Foremost, as odious as slavery was to many, it was tolerated for the time being in order to come to an agreement.

In short, it was good that our founders could play well with others.

Ohio Republican Representative Steve LaTourette, who has been a nine-term Representative in Congress, has played well with others, including those across the aisle.    However, he has had enough of  the present climate in which “compromise” is a dirty word and resigned a few days ago.

His motivations for quitting may not be as pristine as that, in that he has also been frustrated by not getting a position he wanted.  But despite a Wall Street Journal editorial to the contrary, it seems clear that he is  has been a well respected, well liked centrist who has fought hard for his positions while also open to compromise, mostly supporting Speaker John Boehner,  but also going against him at times.  Of course, WSJ will have none of that, instead calling  him “a spender and earmarker, famed for currying favor with union special interests.”

He also curried favor with his district, receiving 65% of the vote in his last election and, though WSJ suggests his real reason for quitting might be  a redrawn district that could make “reelection more difficult”, that is a stretch.   The present Democratic candidate seems so weak that others in that party would like to replace him now that they have a better chance to win.

As to the resignation, The Cleveland Plain Dealer notes:  “Congress’ repeated failure to pass a long-term transportation bill was Exhibit A to LaTourette, a pragmatic conservative who believes infrastructure is a basic government function and one that might require, yes, higher taxes.”  Apparently not grasping the wisdom of Will, WSJ and the Tea Party, the Plain Dealer editorial called his resignation “bad news for greater Cleveland.”

While WSJ is  happy to see La Tourette go, as it “might be a chance to fill the seat with a more reform-minded member”, one more reformer who disdains compromise is the last thing we need in Congress.   Representative LaTourette is the kind of individual I believe a majority of us would like to see in Washington, someone not so blinded by ideological principles as to be unable to get something accomplished in addition to  protecting our constitution.

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3 responses to “Representative LaTourette: A Man in the Middle Torn Apart

  1. Everyone talks about compromise but how do you compromise when someone says 2+2=6? Do you take the middle ground and agree that it’s 5? Most people would say no. How about if someone wants to put a pig farm next to your home? Do you compromise on a smaller pig farm? No, most people wouldn’t. It’s the same in politics. If a group sticks to their core beliefs then so be it. Other groups are doing the same thing. Some ideas just need to be defeated. One idea that is taking root now and needs to be put down is that success is somehow evil. They say confiscate the money from the successful, they’re not paying their fair share. But just look at the dollar amounts the successful pay and anyone can see how flawed that notion is. But that’s ignored, two plus two now equals six in a lot of peoples minds and rich against poor plays well in elections.

    • Well, for one thing, it depends on who is doing the counting and I would question your numbers as you would mine. But more significantly, when congress can’t do basic business together on an issue where there is a lot of agreement, like a transportation bill, there is something inherently wrong with the governing process. I realize coming to terms with these issues is tough, hence the name of the blog.

      • There’s no surprise here. We are in an election year and neither side wants to give up anything to the other. No serious business is going to get done until next year. Bills also have a lot of add-on items that are not related to the original bill. My guess is that there are some of these attached to this bill that are controversial to one side or the other, so it’s a no go. There is a movement in congress called the Single-Issue Rule that would eliminate this type of thing and make all bills pertain to only one issue. It’s not getting much traction. In lieu of that I suggest term limits for congress. I think that the current gridlock is the best we can hope for right now. God help us if they actually start passing bills again. Neither side has done much recently that helps us.

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