Tuesday, January 4

Proof that the Ironic and the Fair are Related

This morning, two political stories came across the wire that have restored some of my faith in the essential humor of the universe.

In the first, the U.S. House of Representatives abruptly changed course and reinstated an ethics rule forbidding indicted Members from leadership posts.

In the second, the Montana House of Representatives chose its Speaker. Nothing noteworthy about that, unless you consider that Speaker, a Democrat from Miles City named Gary Matthews, was elected by the GOP conference and three rogue Democrats.

Why do I find mirth in these stories? First, the US House's (or should I say GOP conference's) original decision to loosen its ethics rules was the most brazen example of chutzpah that I have seen in years. Whether the Conference decided to change their mind because it was the right thing to do, or whether they just bowed to political pressure, I am exceptionally glad to see our Congress (and surprise, the Majority Leader!?) taking the high road (for whatever reason).

Second, watching the tussle over the Montana House for the last two months has been a painful exercise in the problems with which we exercise our democracy. From the end of the first recount, it seemed obvious that the five votes that were counted for Jore should have been disqualified. The Supreme Court did the right thing in awarding the election to Windham, making the House split 50-50 and the Speaker a Democrat.

However, many Republicans have a valid point when they argue that the only reason that our House was split 50-50 in the first place was the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of Montana Republicans through the stacked redistricting commission that stuffed new GOP districts with a population exceeding its target by 105%, and loosely populating the new Democrat districts with a population missing its target by 95%. After all, there were 18,000 more votes for Republican representatives than there were for Democrats in November’s election.

So, by unfair rules, the Republicans lost. It is only fitting with such a topsy-turvy set of rules that the Democrats were hoist on their own petard, and the GOP got to choose the Speaker.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep an eye on Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins!

Paul Zallek
A Treasure State Catholic