When we come to reexamine what happened in the elections of 2006 -- and we will -- we'll need to focus on where Congresswoman Virginia Foxx went wrong. She was supposed to be invulnerable. Her election to the U.S. House in 2004 was supposed to be an inevitability. Her RE-ELECTION, from now 'til eternity ... a foregone conclusion. Opposition to her was considered futile. As a Watauga County School Board member, a N.C. senator, and a U.S. representative, she has never lost an election, and she has built a reputation as a tireless and flawless campaigner. The joke in Watauga County was that there must be at least three of her, because while she was attending the dedication of a school in Wilkes, she was also pouring coffee at a diner in Alexander County, and standing at a plant gate in Ashe.
Here's how the Irresistible Rise of Virginia Foxx was evidently supposed to go: Elected to a "safe seat" in Congress in 2004, the congresswoman could count on automatic reelection every two years. She would raise tons of money and pass it out to fellow Republican fatcats, currying favor and moving up the congressional ladder. Maybe she'd eventually get the chair of an important congressional committee, or maybe a leadership role in the Republican caucus. Maybe she'd run for U.S. Senate or even N.C. governor.
Whatever happens on Tuesday, win or lose, her irresistible rise has stumbled, and her Myth of Invulnerability is gone. Not only is she vulnerable, but she's also as brittle as old news-print. Punch at her, and she crumbles into fluttering bits of airborn particles.
1. Virginia Foxx as Political Opportunist. On 21 March 2005, Foxx voted to give federal courts jurisdiction in the Terri Schiavo dispute, thus completing her own personal journey from pro-choice feminist to pro-life absolutist. It wasn't her vote as much as her grandstanding for the C-SPAN cameras that set teeth on edge. The supposed great champion of no federal government interference in private lives happily flew to D.C. to vote for the most blatant example ever of government interference into private, tragic personal decisions.
2. Virginia Foxx as the Queen of Mean. On 8 September 2005, Foxx was one of only 11 members of Congress to vote against an emergency relief bill for victims of Hurricane Katrina. She suggested instead that people with devastated lives should pray. Meanwhile she posted helpful instructions on her congressional website for directing private-sector contractors to the federal trough. Throughout her political career, Foxx has bragged about the poverty she grew up in, but the experience evidently did not enlarge her heart.
3. Virginia Foxx Can't/Won't Hear You. On 25 January 2006, Virginia Foxx's much touted "listening tour" goes deaf and dumb, as the congresswoman refuses at a Boone stop to recognize questions from the audience or to answer when citizens persist in peppering her about her votes. "Sham!" someone shouts. Later, Foxx's mouthpiece tried to explain that the congresswoman's "listening tour" was intended as an opportunity for the citizens to listen to her, not the other way around. The behavior of the congresswoman is nothing new. During her tenure in the N.C. Senate, she was famous for dismissing voters curtly: "There's nothing I can do. Don't contact me again about this." Do not try to approach her if you don't agree with her.
4. Virginia Foxx as Rubberstamp McHappyface. On 1 Aug. 2006, the congresswoman returned from a brief visit to Iraq and declared that all was well with President Bush's splendid little war. The woman who was formerly reputed to do ALL her homework, as well as everyone else's, could not see the forest for the trees (or the sand for the sand fleas). "There was no sense of any problems," she said at the time. "There was no indication of unhappiness."
But with her, there is unhappiness.
We'll find out Tuesday night whether "the wave" takes her too.