…you never know what you’re going to get. That’s not exactly true, if you are a conservative electing a Republican to national office you are generally going to get screwed.
Republicans are kind of used to it, but there remains hope that Mitt Romney—if elected president—won’t screw us as much as his East Coast RINO pedigree suggests. That hope largely resides in legislators that rode to Washington on the tea party tidal wave in the 2010 midterm elections.
Among them is Rep. Jeff Landry, Tea Party Caucus member and House freshman who will be contesting Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) for Louisiana’s newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. I don’t live in the district, so I won’t be able to pull the lever for either candidate in November.
There are some things to be considered in deciding which man will remain a member of the downsized Louisiana Congressional Delegation, foremost which one will Republicans be able to trust to not act like a Democrat when they feel we aren’t paying attention.
Mulling this over, I was reminded of something I read in a biography of 19th Century Mississippi Congressman Seargent S. Prentiss a few months back. Scanning through the book for the fun of it—yes, I am a wild man— I ran across this quote from a Prentiss speech:
“When men’s liberties are attacked by open force, there is but little to fear; they see the danger and meet it boldly. When under the guise of friendship a blow is struck at the constitution of the country, then it’s time for alarm.”
That little passage seemed to contain the crux of the problem of the Republican Party, so I decided to write it down. I thought it might come in handy one day.
Prentiss was a Whig and was chastising members of his own party for voting like the opposition—the Democratic Party. He was bothered that no one in his party seemed to have a problem when Whigs voted against things they professed to believe in, they only got upset when Democrats voted that way. The real problem was when “under the guise of friendship, a blow is struck.”
Until the emergence of the tea party, today’s Republican Party seemed to have the same problem. That’s changing for the better, as evidenced by the unseating of long-time establishment Republicans by tea party candidates in Congress—the most recent example being Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana losing to state Treasurer Richard Murdock.
Conservative voters are kind of tired of electing Republicans who advocate small government and fiscal responsibility while running for office and are amalgamated instantly into the Washington political class once arriving at the Potomac.
Could Boustany be said to be guilty of this? Landry is trying to make that case and it seems to have some merit.
Upon announcing that he was running for re-election, Landry came out against Boustany for, among other things, voting to raise his pay back in 2007:
As shown in the video, Boustany has countered Landry by saying he has never voted himself a pay raise…only there’s the little matter of the congressional record.
So is Boustany lying? Well, I guess that depends on what your definition of “is,” is.
The case could be made, if you were to engage in some Clintonesque hair-splitting, that what Boustany actually voted on back in 2007 was a bill not to block an automatic pay raise of $4,400 to congressmen’s annual salaries, advancing his pay to $170,000. It’s not a vote to actively raise his pay, just to not stop an automatic raise in pay…pretty much the same thing if your aren’t a typical politician.
Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to go through the trouble of voting to raise you salary and just put an increase on automatic pilot?
I don’t know if Boustany would make the argument I’m suggesting, because he’s ducking my questions.
The Hayride has put a few calls into his office to ask him about the discrepancy between the public record and what he has said, but Boustany nor any of his staff has called back. Incidentally, I have never called Landry when he hasn’t returned my calls promptly to answer questions.
It would be nice to give Boustanty the chance to fire back at Landry’s criticisms that cast him as a fixture of the Washington establishment detached from his constituency, but we can’t do that if he won’t talk to us—kinda like a fixture of the Washington establishment detached from his constituency wouldn’t.
Landry is going to continue to paint Boustany as a member of the Washington elite who did things like vote multiple times to increase the national debt ceiling and even supported Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program—I’m not sure whether or not Landry has used that last one yet, but it’s coming.
The Hayride has certainly been fair to Boustany, recently running columns that could be said to be a little less than kind to Landry. If he is willing to take a few questions from Louisiana’s most read political blog to blunt his opponent’s attacks, it might do him some good. Boustany seems like a smart guy, so it’s likely something he will soon do.
If not, stupid is as stupid does.