Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marjorie Margolies: Retroactive Profile In Courage

Marjorie Margolies was the deciding vote for Bill Clinton's "it's not tax increases, it's deficit reduction" bill. Every so often, like a bad Christmas story, she trots out some variation of this piece to encourage our legislators to make a similarly poor decision on some poorly considered bill.

This time, the title is Democrats, Vote Your Conscience, by which she means "Democrats, Vote My Conscience, to the Degree I Like to Pretend I Ever Had One". Oh, and she's dropped Mezvinsky from her name for the byline. Probably a good idea.

I feel your pain. Eighteen years ago, I was elected on the coattails of a popular young Democratic president who promised a post-partisan Washington.

And delivered it, albeit indirectly.

I was pressed on all sides: by constituents opposed, my president needing a victory and Republicans promising my demise.

What's ironic about this is that the only party in this scenario that didn't get what it wanted was the constituency.

I was in the country's most Republican district represented by a Democrat. I had repeatedly said, "I will not be a 'read my lips' candidate," when asked if I would promise not to raise taxes.

This is cute, what she's doing here. She did promise not to raise taxes. The 'read my lips' reference (with irony not original to her) referred to Bush's reneging on his promise, not to the fact that she was unwilling to make promises.

I voted my conscience, and it cost me.

Not really. She was on her way out regardless. In classic Clinton fashion, he laughably promised to add in $100 billion in spending cuts in exchange for her vote. He always had an eye for gullible women, as we now know.

I still remember how, after I voted, Bob Walker jumped up and down on the House floor, yelling "Bye-bye, Marjorie!"

Actually, the Republicans grabbed hankies and sang it collectively, but why let that get in the way of a good anecdote? She always goes on with this schtick about how she thought Bob Walker was a good jumper. Is there any footage of Bob Walker jumping? Any other recollection of Rep. Walker's jumping ability?

I thought, first, that he was probably right. Then, that I would expect better behavior from my kids, much less a member of Congress.

Which Congress is this? The one where a man was once nearly beaten to death with a cane? The one that recently laid to rest one of the most notorious drunken womanizers in history? The one that once featured your crooked ex-husband?

I am your worst-case scenario. And I'd do it all again.

Because, again, she had zero chance of re-election anyway.

In recent days I have become something I never imagined: a verb. I hear that when freshmen enter Congress they are told, "We don't want to Margolies-Mezvinsky you."

Of course, these days, "to Mezvinsky" someone means something else entirely.

I had no idea that when I voted for the Clinton budget, I was writing the first line of my obituary.

You weren't. The first line will be about your crooked ex-husband. The second will be about how your kid married Chelsea Clinton. The third will be about whatever killed you.

Simply put, you could be Margolies-Mezvinskied whether you vote with or against President Obama.

Well, no. You will just be voted out of office. But then, unlike Margolies-Mezvinsky, you might have a successful political career in front of you.

-- America is a strong country -- despite what the cynics say.

If only it had a multi-trillion dollar mish-mash of exchange programs, bureaucracy, and entitlements added to it's health care infrastructure. Then, it would be perfect.

In the run-up to the vote on the Clinton budget, rhetoric reached a fever pitch... one might think passage of the Clinton budget made Armageddon look like a walk in the park. Tactically speaking, not much has changed. Reconciliation is a "threat to our democracy." Health-care reform = socialism.

But this bill is necessary to save our children's precious tonsils from thieving doctors and so Timmy O'Toole's appendix doesn't explode. We have to act now or EVERYBODY DIES!!!!

But none of the dire predictions about the Clinton budget came to pass.

Nothing that happened in 1994 had anything to do with this.

-- Your constituents are always right. Usually.

Except when they don't favor the interests of your president. In which case, screw 'em, cause the president is dreamy and would neeeeeeeever lie to you.

By the way, why is Obama having the Post run this op-ed? This is the last person the Dems want to be hearing from right now.

Of course -- and that's why you're there. Otherwise, we'd vote everything by referendum.

Yeah, that's pretty much how the framers intended Congress. The House of Representatives... Correcting your mistakes for over 200 years, you idiots.

This rule is equally applicable today. If a majority of your constituents opposed George W. Bush's surge in Iraq because they thought it would not lead to stability, your district got it wrong.

And so did the president, as well as the members of congress responsible for this abomination of a health care bill.

So if, perhaps, a majority opposes comprehensive health-care reform, they might not be right.

Yeah, but the people who got the surge thing right are saying this health care bill is wrong.

It's that there are times in all our careers when we must ask ourselves why we're here.

Are you here to craft good legislation, or help Barack Obama look like somewhat less of an incompetent fool than he does at present? Make no mistake, you are here for the latter. Obama must be redeemed at any cost. He is black.

I decided that my desire for public service at that moment was greater than my desire to guarantee continued service.

And you believed our lying president when he lied to you. You read his lips and swallowed his... Charms.

I urge you simply to cast the vote you can be proud of next week, next year and for years to come. Given the opportunity, I wouldn't change my vote.

Because, one more time, you weren't going to be re-elected anyway. No chance. None. Zip. You should never have been in congress. You were out of your element in the first place. Frankly, the fact that anyone remembers you at all, in any context, is a small miracle. But you, ma'am, have no fewer than three claims to fame. You are footnote city, babe. Your obituary will be awesome.

Then again, what do I know? I was a lousy politician.

Obamacare to all, and to all a good night.


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