Commentary by Ron Miller
(Oct. 28, 2009) One of the more blatant falsehoods of southern Maryland politics is the notion of "Congressman for Life" Steny Hoyer being a moderate. He has cultivated that image with the national press and the inside-the-Beltway crowd, presenting himself as the voice of reason that tempers the Democratic Party's more left-wing tendencies. I don't know if it's age, arrogance or the authority assumed by the one-part monopoly in Washington that has gotten to him but in 2009, he has dropped the pretense and revealed himself for who he really is—an unapologetic leftist and a condescending politico who treats one group of constituents as helpless children and the other as enemies of the state.
Those of us who follow politics were never fooled by Hoyer's subterfuge. Only a complicit or ignorant press would conclude that this man is "moderate" despite his lifetime rating of 88.8 percent from the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), the liberal advocacy group, his 2008 ADA rating of 90%, his support for the legalized killing of unborn children to include partial-birth abortion, his record as the one of the largest purveyors of pork on Capitol Hill, and his taste for government control over more aspects of our lives and higher taxes to fuel the growing beast.
People taken in by his moderate facade point to his support of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and other military installations in the 5th Congressional District as evidence he's not a knee-jerk liberal. That dog doesn't hunt, however.
Practically all members of Congress, regardless of ideology, defend military installations in their home district. They bring federal money, jobs and, more important to the legislators, a grateful constituency. Senator Barbara Mikulski energetically pursues military installations and the funding that comes with them for Maryland, and no one has ever credited her with moderation in any of her views.
Hoyer aligns himself with these installations because it wins him votes, pure and simple. In particular, the people of St. Mary's County see him for who he truly is, and if it wasn't for the Patuxent River NAS, they would vote against him with extreme prejudice.
He energetically promotes the illusion that these installations cannot survive without him, and the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance's defense of him as the "coach" of their team was predictable and sad. How far from the proper relationship of the government to the governed have we strayed when citizens and private associations are intimidated by elected officials into carrying the water for them?
How dismissive can a public servant be of the ones who did the lion's share of the work in demonstrating to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) the military value of the installation? A "coach" recruits the players, trains and equips them, develops game plans, and lives and dies with them on the field. I feel for the fine men and women of the alliance who were compelled to put that "coach" nonsense out to the public.
Now that Washington is a one-party town, Hoyer has taken off his mask and revealed himself in all his arrogant liberal glory. Consider the evidence:
-- Hoyer teams up with Nancy Pelosi to declare the disruptive dissent of citizens at the town hall meetings "un-American." The fact that a significant number of his constituents are actively and vocally opposed to government intervention in health care didn't stop him from insulting them and their commitment to their country and its principles.
-- Hoyer laughs out loud when it is suggested that he and his colleagues should pledge to read the bills they propose making into law. 'I'm laughing because I don't know how long this bill is going to be, but it's going to be a very long bill,' he said. He went on to say the staffers read them and pass on the relevant information to the members. Only one problem with that - we didn't elect the staffers, Mr. Hoyer. You're the chosen representative of the people, not them.
Besides, it became clear later that he could've used some late night reading. At his own town hall meeting, Hoyer was apparently not familiar with clauses of the health care reform bill that many in his audience clearly had read. I'm as thrilled about citizens doing their due diligence and not trusting what they've been told as I am frustrated that our Congressman doesn't do the most important part of his job, to read and understand what he's trying to impose on the rest of us.
-- Hoyer's health care town hall meeting was clearly designed to control dissent and minimize the opportunities opponents had to speak their minds. He wasn't there to listen as much as he was to tell us we were wrong and he was going to do whatever he pleased.
-- Hoyer opines that the "general welfare" clause of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to require individuals to purchase health insurance, or do just about anything they deem to be in the common interest. For a man with a law degree, his interpretation of the Constitution is frightening - and dead wrong. Our Founding Fathers took great care to limit the power of the federal government and maximize individual rights, and the notion that the Congress can force citizens to buy goods or services would have been abhorrent to them.
David B. Rivkin, a constitutional lawyer with Baker & Hostetler, called Hoyer's argument "silly," adding that if the general welfare clause was that elastic, then nothing would be outside of Congress' powers. "Congressman Hoyer is wrong," Rivkin said. "The notion that the general welfare language is a basis for a specific legislative exercise is all silly because if that's true, because general welfare language is inherently limitless, then the federal government can do anything.
How fitting is it that, as we approach Halloween this weekend, the man who has spent much of his political life wearing a mask has taken it off? The man behind the mask is much more frightening and dangerous, however, especially to our liberties. Citizens beware!
Ron Miller, of Huntingtown, is a conservative blogger and activist, former and future candidate for the Maryland Senate, and communications director for the Calvert County Republican Party. Ron is a regular contributor to
ProLifeUnity.com. You can also follow Ron
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