Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy continues to give a graphic representation of what happens when you stay in Washington too long.
It seems incredible to think that the Cassidy of a year ago running for reelection and the one on display today are the same person. Then, Cassidy was a GOP Pres. Donald Trump and Senate party loyalist, voting with Trump about 89 percent of the time (higher that predicted by a model used by one political forecasting and commentary website), rated about 83 on the American Conservative Union’s scorecard, and enthusiastically backed party positions such as the ascension of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the campaign he sounded all the right conservative themes and cruised to victory.
However, within that ACU rating should have signaled a warning to conservatives. It notes his weakest area was on budget and fiscal policy, where according to it he voted more often for liberal policies. And that became starker not long after Cassidy concluded that Trump had lost his reelection attempt and he became an early backer of an unnecessary spending bill just as his first term ended.
Not long after his swearing in, he incomprehensibly, for reasons apparently both ill-informed and half-baked, voted to convict Trump in impeachment proceedings that as more investigation had occurred seems ever more farcical. He then thew in his lot to back a Democrat bill that elevates wasteful spending to new heights, even as most of his Senate party and every other Louisiana Republican delegation member criticized and rejected it.
Showing his continued unmooring from principled voting, even as he tried to defend his support of this bill that would spend a distinct minority of its proceeds on necessary infrastructure and the remainder on more dubious items if not on things not related to infrastructure, he trumpeted his opposition to a larger Democrat package also rejected by every GOP senator. Worse, despite suffering humiliation on national television when show host Laura Ingraham boxed him in to say passing the smaller bill would discourage the larger’s passage, even though House Democrats have said they won’t pass the smaller without the larger, he has kept up the drumbeat trying to build support for the smaller bill.
This includes doubling down in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s destruction. The bill includes money to beef up power transmission which Cassidy now maintains makes the case for the bill even stronger. (Of course, a good chunk of that money made available actually is intended to increase transmission of unreliable renewable energy, as just one example of waste.)
But this ignores that Congress could detach the resilience measures into a standalone bill mirroring distribution of money proportional to demonstrated storm risk, although even that unlikely would provide the state’s utility providers with enough capital to avoid passing on some costs to consumers. Nor would these measures solve completely the power outage problems exemplified by Ida’s rampage that left hundreds of thousands of ratepayers out of luck for days.
Most disturbingly, Cassidy still can’t see the forest for the trees. He continued to exhibit poor political judgement to think the pork due Louisiana in the bill he backs creates more benefits for the state and country as a whole than costs from the wasted dollars committed to leftist fantasies anchored to bad policies.
This behavior is the hallmark of a creature captured by Washington, who operates with blinders unable to see the larger picture, keying in on the dealmaking and what elites think to the point of winning Strange New Respect, forsaking the genuine needs of those he represents. Cassidy increasingly has become an alien among Louisianans, and that bodes ill for his ability to represent their best interests over the next five-plus years.