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15.2.07

Melancon plays game with complaints that ring hollow

You don’t win a couple of terms in Congress without being a good politician, and Rep. Charlie Melancon is proving he is by his recent “attacks” on U.S. House leadership.

Democrat Melancon has expressed irritation at his party’s majority leadership, saying that it has not followed through on promises to do “more” for the state in wake on the 2005 hurricane disasters, It’s hard to know what more could be done with about $60 billion thrown at the state in the past 18 months by the federal government, but that’s Melancon’s argument as he says there needs to be additional loan forgiveness and brokering of disputes concerning distribution of federal money.

Even so, Democrat leaders say they will try to address such concerns. But, being realistic, nothing is going to happen here. Simply, Democrat representatives from the rest of the country are not going to give away money to Louisiana unless, liberals as they are, they see a political payoff. They survey the situation in the state, where a Democrat governor stands little chance of winning reelection and will drag the party’s statewide fortunes down with her, and see there is not much to be gained from trying to boost Democrat fortunes in the state. They might tinker at the margins, but because there is no national political payoff from transferring money from American taxpayers (money they can use for their own purposes) to Louisiana, they won’t do it.

Melancon realizes this, and thus must make it appear that he is “fighting” for state interests, hence the source of his complaints. It’s a game where symbolism trumps substance and one that he knows and the Washington Democrats know must be played to try to build an image that he does not, as is the actual case, have beliefs that run counter to the majority in his district, so they play it. He must in order to continue to fool Third District voters in what might be a very challenging 2008 election cycle.

While by this tactic Melancon tries to craft an image that his is a not a liberal Democrat, by no objective means isn’t he. In his first year, he managed to score a 61 on the American Conservative Union scale, slightly conservative, but on others’ scorecards, those of the Americans for Tax Reform, the Citizens Against Government Waste, and the National Taxpayers’ Union, he got a 17, 27, and 29. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action confirms, where the scale is reversed; they gave him an 80 in 2005. In that year alone, among other things, Melancon voted against cutting taxes and reducing the size of the budget, reform of the United Nations, tort reform, increasing U.S. energy independence, reducing the deficit, and more stringent border control.

But Melancon will play the game to boost his reelection chances, trying to unlink himself to the very liberal leadership of the House which he supported in its establishment only last month and whose measures in other areas he continues to support. It’s the only way he can try to obscure his liberal voting record, but it won’t fool an informed citizenry.

1 comment:

Logipundit said...

Symbolism trumping substance? No...stop it. Can't imagine. Does the term "non-binding resolution" mean anything to you?

By the way, added you to a list of "Louisiana Bloggers" (aren't ya flattered?). Forming a sort of "Senate" of bloggers that are on top of local and State Politics in their respective locales...

Louisiana "ex-pat" myself. come see us...