A news release arrived this week headlined "Lincoln, Pryor, Snyder Announce $2.2M for Arkansas's National Cemeteries." Further reading revealed that only $55,000 of the federal money would be used for improvements at Little Rock National Cemetery, in the congressional district of Rep. Vic Snyder. The rest, more than $2 million, is headed for the veterans' cemeteries at Fort Smith and Fayetteville, both in the district of Rep. John Boozman, whose name was not in the release. What's wrong with this picture?
What's wrong, horribly wrong, is that Boozman would rather honor the Republican Party than the men and women who served their country in uniform. He did nothing to get this money for the cemeteries. Indeed, he voted against the national Recovery Act, the source of the funds. Following the standing order of the Republican National Committee ("No"), Boozman has stopped working on projects to benefit his district. Constituents seeking his help are referred to Arkansas's two senators, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. Perhaps his staff advises callers that Boozman is running against Lincoln, and that if he succeeds, Arkansas will receive even less federal aid.
What a difference there is between these two lawmakers. Boozman virtually relinquishes his House seat to be a fulltime campaigner for the Senate, though he probably still manages to work in a bit of foreign travel at taxpayers' expense. He's a dogged junketeer. Lincoln, on the other hand, sponsors and wins passage of historic legislation to provide nutritious food to low-income schoolchildren, and helps write and pass the most significant Wall Street reform bill since the end of the Great Depression. Can anyone remember an Arkansas senator accomplishing more in a comparable period of time? And she's also obtaining federal money for the Third Congressional District, now effectively lacking representation in the U.S. House.
After escaping indictment by the U.S. Justice Department, Tom DeLay said he hoped that Americans would look at his case and decide that "the politics of personal destruction is not beneficial to our country and hopefully it will stop." When he was a congressman, nobody practiced the politics of personal destruction more vigorously than the partisan and vindictive Tom (The Hammer) DeLay, a leader in the effort to remove Bill Clinton from the presidency. If he's apologized, we missed it.
DeLay still faces criminal charges in Texas, where he and two associates are accused of money-laundering and conspiracy in connection with state legislative elections. An on-line biography of DeLay suggests that he's best remembered as a contestant on a TV dance show. Not by everybody.