What’s the matter with Kannapolis?

The Washington Post continues its assault on Democratic members of Congress who stand in the way (however briefly) of Obamacare. First, the Post attacked Joe Lieberman for being venal, vengeful, and vain. It then attacked Ben Nelson as an opportunist and a show horse (which perhaps was not too wide of the mark).
Now the Post trains its sights on freshman Congressman Larry Kissell of North Carolina, who voted against the House version of Obamacare. In Post-man Philip Rucker’s account, Kissell is oblivious to the needs of his district and untrue to his alleged “promise to bring a progressive everyman’s sensibility to Congress.”
Rucker finds Kissell’s vote against Obamacare “perplexing” given “the need for health care reform in the largely rural Congressional District” Kissell represents. To drive home the point, the Post includes a picture of Kissell the caption to which helpfully explains that he “voted against health-care reform even though it is badly needed in the largely rural district he represents.”
Rucker claims that Kissell’s vote against the legislation was politically motivated (Kissell says it was based on the Medicare cuts, which he promised throughout the campaign not to countenance). Rucker concludes, though, that Kissell may well have made a bad political bet, He quotes a Democratic “operative” who says, ominously, that freshmen members of Congress tend to make freshmen mistakes, which is why many of them don’t become sophomores.
I understand that Rucker is a 2006 graduate of Yale. It’s possible, I suppose, that he understands better than Kissell (a) the needs of Kissell’s constituents and (b) the political realities of the district. After all, Kissell is merely a former millworker and high school civics teacher who managed to persuade the voters of this Republican-leaning jurisdiction, where he has lived all of life, to elect him to Congress.
Yet, Rucker’s analysis is not entirely persuasive. He notes that about 20 percent of the district’s residents under age-65 have no health insurance. But what about the remaining 80 percent? Perhaps these folks have mixed views, or worse, about assuming the various costs of providing the minority with health insurance. And what about the residents who are over age-65? They likely are not thrilled by the prospect of cuts to Medicare. That may be why Kissell made what he calls a “line-in-the-sand” promise never to cut Medicare.
Rucker apparently thinks Kissell’s imputed promise to “bring a progressive everyman’s sensibility to Congress” trumps his promise not to vote for cuts to Medicare. But perhaps Kissell can be forgiven for believing that his position on Obamacare is consistent with such a sensibility, whatever it might mean.


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