As I went about my normal activities on a typical Sunday morning, it seemed that everywhere I went, I was confronted by anxious and angry people who understood that a monumental event was about to take place that would change the course of the nation forever. Many people between church and Sunday school at the Grace Chapel Presbyterian Church were deeply offended because the vote in the Congress on nationalized health care was to take place on a Sunday. Others were concerned about the tremendous debt and tax burden that was about to be placed on their children and grandchildren. Still others were outraged by the procedural maneuvers that were taking place to make it appear that Democratic congressmen were voting against Obamacare when in fact they would vote for it. But to a man and woman they were uniformly worried about the socialistic direction that the country was taking and were outraged at Mississippi's two supposedly conservative "Blue
Dog" Democratic congressmen, Travis Childers and Gene Taylor
On March 19, 2010, when it became apparent that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had in hand, through various back-room deals, the sufficient 216 votes to adopt the Senate approved version of nationalized health care, Childers and Taylor finally issued weak and tepid statements saying that they would oppose the national health care legislation pushed by the Democrats, thus attempting to appear to their constituents that they were trying to uphold conservative principals and support the views of the voters of their congressional districts. Childers, who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Republicans, issued a carefully worded statement saying that he is "deeply concerned about the legislation's large price tag and the absence of sufficiently strong language to prohibit funding of abortion." Taylor said the country can't afford a new federal health insurance program . . . "[w]ith the national debt nearing $12 trillion and projected to grow far into the future . . . ." Incredibly, according to Mississippi's CLARION LEDGER, both stated that "neither Democratic leaders nor administrative officials" had tried to sway them to vote for the landmark health care overhaul.
Childers and Taylor tried mightily to appear to their constituents that they had "stood up" against Nancy Pelosi (who they had both voted for in the current term of Congress when she was elected Speaker) and had kept faith with their constituents in Mississippi who overwhelmingly opposed Obamacare. However, the people who talked to me were not fooled by the thinly-veiled charade put on by Childers and Taylor. They knew that, throughout the highly publicized and stormy debate over nationalized health care that has been going on for months, both Childers and Taylor have been missing in action and showed no leadership at all on the issue. They knew that in the early stages of the health care debate when congressmen returned to their districts to hold "town meetings" and had to confront angry representatives of newly formed "tea parties", Childers avoided the process altogether and held a "call-in session" instead. And they also know that "Blue Dog" Democrats, while posing as fiscal and social conservatives, either have (like Childers and Taylor) been rendered irrelevant to the congressional process and ignored altogether; or have engaged in routine support of their House leaders through subterfuge - as they did in this case - making it appear that they held out for constraints on abortion but nevertheless voted for the national health care package.
Voters in Mississippi (and I suspect elsewhere) are becoming increasingly aware that congressional Blue Dog Democrats are essentially toothless - and do not bark very much either. As stated by Professor Kenin Unter of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, Childers ". . . needs to vote against health care if he wants to keep his seat." Obviously, Speaker Pelosi gave Childers enough slack on his leash to do so and will allow him to continue to pose as a conservative as long as he keeps voting for her as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
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