Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heath Shuler, Big Man on Campus

What a diva!

Congressman Heath Shuler of the NC-11 joined the Blue Dog Democrats as soon as he got to Congress, and since then you'd think he both invented sliced (white) bread and also guarded its purity.

The Blue Dogs have been sticking their fat fingers in the president's eye over health insurance reform, siding with the Republicans in the rote repetition of talking points whose sole substance appears to be fear of change, terror mainly expended on behalf of the big insurance corporations (like Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC) which might actually (gasp!) have to compete in the marketplace instead of being handed a virtual monopoly.

The Blue Dogs, with Shuler very much hunting in that pack, have set themselves up as too too big for their britches, becoming in effect the dictators in the U.S. House of what will be allowed in any so-called "reform," which in their case looks an awful lot like what the Republican mugwumps advocate (i.e., "very little" or "next to nothing" or "the bare minimum to placate the ignorant public").

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi caved to some Blue Dog demands (at which point the Progressive Dems in the House began manning their own barricades, since they've said all along that they would not support a reform that does not include competition for the big insurance corps).

And what's Shuler saying? He's set himself up as even more pompous than the Blue Dogs that Pelosi was trying to placate yesterday. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Shuler "expressed reservations about the deal on health care reform legislation reached Wednesday among some Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee."

And then he showed his hand: "I am hopeful that the ongoing negotiations will be productive, and I'm glad that the Blue Dogs have been able to slow the process down. I will continue to work with Blue Dogs and my other colleagues in both parties to ensure that health care reform will benefit us all. It is more important that we get it right than right away."

That last line is a sound-bite that might have been written by John Boehner, along with the sentiment, "I'm glad I could slow the game down." So that it resembles a death-march, eh, Congressman?

We might respect Mr. Shuler's position if we thought he knew the first thing about what he's talking about, rather than merely posturing for the applause of the Republicans he seems to be serving far more assiduously than the Democrats who elected him.

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