Friday, January 09, 2004

When Republicans Sound Like Democrats

Maybe you've seen his TV spots ... George Moretz ... running for Congress ... "conservative" ... but very agitated about the loss of jobs ... "Times have never been this bad!"

Moretz is a Republican running to replace Cass Ballenger in the North Carolina 10th District. He was planning to run against Cass Ballenger, but Ballenger decided that maybe it would be better to resign.

Compare Moretz's verging-on-angry pitch about the loss of jobs to the TV spots Jay Helvey is running as a Republican candidate in the 5th Congressional District (the primary that Virginia Foxx is also running in). Helvey's TV spot makes him sound like a populist Democrat ... Jobs, jobs, jobs! "What's happening to working-class and small-town America is awful!"

No mention in either the Moretz or the Helvey spots of who might be to blame for the policies that have led to those thousands of jobs lost in North Carolina. Hm-m-m-m-m. Could it be ... George W. Bush?

Watauga County used to be in the 10th Congressional District, so we well remember Cass Ballenger and applaud his decision to retire. Most recently Ballenger was sued for defamation by the country's largest Islamic civil liberties group, after he said the group's offices (across the street from his Capitol Hill townhouse) were full of women "wearing hoods," or headscarves, and were so close to the Capitol that "they could blow the place up." He claimed the stress of living near the Muslims had broken up his 50-year marriage -- that and new House rules prohibiting his wife from cashing in on free tickets and lunches and soirees that used to make life in Washington for fat-cats so much more lovely.

Ballenger is also famous for refusing to remove a black-faced lawn jockey statue from the front yard of his North Carolina home and for saying that then-congresswoman Cythia McKinney had brought out "a little bit of a segregationist feeling" in him because "I mean, she was such a bitch."

Such statements -- and Ballenger had a long history of similar pronouncements -- led the Cleveland Plain Dealer to comment, "You don't have to be stupid to be a bigot. But being bigoted will get you there faster" ... by way of introducing a new scientific study in Nature Neuroscience which found "that bias toward people of another race, or people who are 'different' can drain mental function and make people dumber."

Some of his votes in Congress were equally dumb, especially those that caused a net job loss in the textile industry and against which George Moretz, chair of Carolina Mills and a former donor to Ballenger, intended to run. And to sound like a populist Democrat in the process.

But no Democrat he. Moretz has hired Jesse Helms confidant Carter Wrenn of Raleigh as his political consultant.

Moretz, who is in his 60s, will have a primary against a 28-year-old, and everyone agrees that the primary is the election, since no Democrat can win in the 10th District.

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