The long, hot summer

Politico identifies the five members of Congress who “suffered the worst of the heat at this season’s town halls.” The headline refers to the five as “summer recess casualties,” which overstates the damage in the same way many breathless commentators are doing. Still it’s a fun list, and worth a look for those of us who are keeping score.
The list is headed by Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.). Massa was captured on video telling to Netroots Nation, “I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I’m doing is going to help them.” Massa represents a fairly conservative district. Go for it, Eric.
Next is our friend Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). 60 percent of Arkansas voters disapprove of Democratic health care reform legislation; only 29 percent approve. Lincoln, characteristically, took no position on the legislation during most the recess (she now says she will oppose the public option). However, she did take a position on people who “disrupt” town hall meetings. Lincoln called them “un-American.” She has since apologized.
Lincoln’s political weakness is so apparent that she may face a challenge within her own party from state senate president Bob Johnson. It will not be easy for Lincoln to hang onto her seat. Conservative Republicans and Democrats don’t like her because they realize she’s a liberal at heart. Liberals don’t like her because they understand that she’s a stooge of corporate interests.
The other members of Politco’s top five are Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). Grassley, of course, has been attempting to reach a compromise health care reform proposal. This drew strong fire from Republicans back home. Accordingly, he has backed off, saying “we need to slow down and do less.” It seems to me that Grassley had a profitable recess.
Politico awards a honorable mention to three others: Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va), Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), and Rep. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.). Hodes, who is running for the Senate, exhibited an arrogance surprising even for a Dartmouth educated liberal when he compared opponents of health care reform to members of “the flat-earth society.” May this comment help drive him off the face of the poltical earth.


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