Leaders and Sideliners

Today’s vote on the $700,000,000,000 “bailout” was a great illustration of true leadership in action.

Although our entire congressional delegation voted against handing the federal government more of our money to reward the irresponsible behavior and incestuous relationship between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their congressional supporters, the motives between our Republicans and Democrats could not have been clearer.

Republican Congressmen Rick Renzi, Trent Franks, John Shadegg and Jeff Flake all did the right thing.  They stood on principle and for the interest of their constituents. This was expected of them and they deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

Both Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva are in “safe” Democratic congressional districts. They have nothing to worry about when it comes to getting re-elected. They obviously wanted a lot more in this bill and whey they didn’t get what they wanted, they voted against it They know that this bill will be back on Thursday or Friday and they’ll get their fully-loaded bill on the next vote.

That leaves Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell. Both freshmen Democrats are in districts where voter registration is tight and their respective races are even tighter. Both also have to explain votes they made earlier this year that expanded the power of GSE’s like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make costly financial mistakes.

But the picture becomes a whole lot clearer when we learn what really happened on the floor of the House today while the vote was taking place. According to an account reported by the Associated Press,

Still, a few lawmakers, among them freshman Democrat Harry Mitchell of Arizona, hung around in the well, potentially ready to switch. Registered as a “no,” Mitchell held a green “yes” voting card. Also from Arizona, Democratic freshman Gabrielle Giffords stood nearby.

One can only imagine what was going through the mind of Harry Mitchell has he held in his hands a vote for the bailout and a vote against the bailout.

It takes real courage and leadership to walk down to the well with only one vote on your mind. Somehow Mitchell’s comments reported earlier in the press doesn’t seem to reconcile with his meandering down at the well.

If there is one defining characteristic that both Giffords and Mitchell demonstrated today, it was a deficit in leadership. And that means there is only one solution for the voters this fall when it comes to this “political bailout” and that’s to place Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell on the sidelines where they belong.


  1. Attempting to read the minds of politicians never seems like a winning proposition so I really don’t get how one can claim one group acted out on “principle” and the other group acted from some other motives. I can see the argument for Franks, but Shadegg? It would be just as easy to claim that he waited all this time for “input” so he could see which way the political wind was blowing. Trent Franks – one might as well try to discern what a rock thinks – and using Rick Renzi and “principle” in the same sentence is only excusable if being sarcastic.

    I certainly won’t claim to know why the rest voted the way they did, but at least we can be thankful they didn’t vote to give a huge handout to Wall Street.

  2. Shadegg has had no trouble taking a stand including calling for Paulson’s resignation. No waiting for the political wind there.

  3. House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.

    Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.

    — David Brooks

  4. Ok…this post is tremendously weak. Arguing that Mitchell had two votes in his mind is hardly a problem. Most republicans that spoke after the bill said it was among the most difficult decisions they had ever had to make…and many made it at the last moment.

    On Giffords, nice try…you don’t have shred of anything on her about her vote, wavering, or anything like it.

    It is going to be interesting how this all falls out. The fallout so far has been disappointment in the 95 Dems that voted against it…but massive anger against the House republicans who overwhelmingly vote against it and pulled it apart. As the market dropped 777 points, businesses were freaked, and retirees are losing their income, you can bet there will be fallout…more of it.

    This may be the final nail in the coffin of business supporting the GOP.

  5. Nice post Richard.

    By the way, did some of you here get instruction to “pack up” the anti-immigration debate? Not a word of it at the GOP convention, rarely a word on the conservative blogs.

    Getting close to election time…you don’t mind offending Hispanic voters in off years but as the election gets closer its…crickets that I hear.

  6. George of the Desert says

    You want to blame the MINORITY party for failure of a vote?

    House rules are so tremendously tilted in favor of the majority that a failed vote is extremely rare.

    The last time I recall a bill so handily going to defeat was the original 1994 Crime Bill. The then-Democrat leadership of Tom Foley and Dick Gephardt was caught flat-footed and embarassed by the loss.

    Rule #1 for House leadership: NEVER bring a vote to the floor when you don’t have the votes. These guys weren’t even close. That’s just incompetent.

    Of course, this is all academic. I don’t care if you’re GOP or a Dem; if the phones are ringing off the hook and constituents are telling you they don’t like the bill, you need to pay attention. Any lawmaker who ignores public outcries like that will need to find work in the private sector.

  7. Antifederalist says

    I’m pretty sure that the AP story on Mitchell and the colored voting cards is incorrect…unless they’ve changed the voting system within the last 2 or 3 years. I was given a tour of the House floor by a Congressman. He explained to me that voting was done by putting an ID card into a reader, then pushing the colored BUTTON next to the slot to register the vote, green for yes or red for no. I’ve seen these voting devices which are affixed to the back of the benches in the House with my own eyes.

    My guess is that the reporting got garbled. I bet Mitchell cast his vote and the board above the House floor reflected his no vote. My guess is that he may have still held his ID card in his hand…perhaps signaling that he could be flipped, but then again, it could mean nothing, that he was simply holding his card.

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