Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 7, 2004
POLITICS: Don't Go There

One of the stupidest memes I've heard from the Left in a very long time - and that's saying quite a lot - is detailed here:

I'm waiting on the transcript, but a moment ago Donna Brazille killed the "John Kerry was an indistinguished as a Senator" meme.

In the "rapid fire" section of Crossfire she said the following to a Republican Strategist...

"Dick Cheney was in the house for over a decade. How many bills did he pass?"

The Republican Strategist paused, looked physically ill, then tried to change the subject by saying "Well, he was aknowledged as a leader."

There was laughter in the crowd.

But Brazille didn't let him go. She leaned forward and very calmly told the truth.

"2 bills".

2 bills for Cheney. 57 for Kerry.

I generally figure Brazile would be smarter than this - this is just an incredibly idiotic comparison. First of all, Kerry's been in the Senate twice as long as Cheney was in the House - but Cheney, unlike Kerry, came to the Vice Presidency with qualifications well beyond his Congressional record. Cheney had already been White House Chief of Staff in the Ford Administration (he was Don Rumsfeld's deputy during the traumatic conclusion to the Vietnam War and had worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses since 1969) and Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War and the end of the Cold War. He also, of course, headed a large corporation in the 1990s. He was clearly a much more consequential figure than Kerry in numerous ways, a recognized power broker in GOP politics and national security policy.

To review: there are basically four major ways to have an impact in Congress:

1. Get in the leadership. This is the true path to power. Dole, Daschle, Frist, George Mitchell . . . these guys were all impact players on a huge range of legislation without getting their names on them. How many bills did Tip O'Neill sponsor? Dick Cheney quickly got into the leadership:

After just one term in the House, Congressman Cheney was elected Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee. By the time he left Congress, in his sixth term, he had been elected House Minority Whip—the second ranking House Republican Leader.

Cheney was happy and effective in his 10 years as a Congressman, and he rose to be the second-ranking Republican in the House, with a real chance of one day becoming Speaker. But when President Bush in 1989 asked him to be Secretary of Defense instead, he leaped at the offer.

Kerry, by contrast, never got close. This is a guy whose big theme is that he'll build alliances, and he never even managed to get his fellow Democratic Senators to follow him anywhere.

2. Sponsor bills. Neither Kerry nor Cheney did much of this.

3. Be a high-profile advocate on particular issues - McCain on campaign finance, Kemp on tax cuts, Nunn and Lugar on defense, Kennedy on health care. Even if they hadn't had their names on bills, those guys would be impact players. Neither Kerry nor Cheney did much of this.

4. Be a high-impact committee chairman. Kerry never has. Cheney, of course, was never in the majority, so he didn't have the chance.

Which brings us to another distinction - Cheney spent his years as one of the leaders of the minority in a chamber where the minority has little clout. By definition, members of the minority party in the House don't accomplish much, especially the way the Democrats ran the House in those years. When he's had opportunities to exercise more influence, as he has now in three Republican administrations (he was a lower-level Executive Branch guy in the Nixon years), he's been a major, major impact player. Kerry, by contrast, has been in the Senate - where the minority has more power - and has spent about half of his two decades there in the majority party, while leaving barely a trace and never really getting out front on any issue (c'mon, give me examples of causes where Kerry took a visible public position and fought for it without ducking for cover).

(Pejman has more in a similar vein; thanks to Pej for the link to Kos)

Of course, Kerry's Senate record does look distinguished . . . compared to Edwards.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:18 PM | Politics 2004 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

VERY WELL SAID! I was watching that episode, I heard the laughter...

Thanks for being informativ in the area I well as making me be a better baseball tolerant girlfriend ; )

Posted by: Jennifer at August 8, 2004 6:51 AM

Why in the hell would anyone consider creating more onerous government-intruding legislation as a measure of a successful stint in the US congress. Kerry never did anything in the Senate because he never intended to. He just needed a job that he felt fit his self-perceived indespensibility to the republic and his deserved social station that required little or no effort. The US Senate fit the bill. Has John Kerry ever held a job in the private sector since his joining the US Navy? Talk about your lifelong welfare queen! Sheesh.

What I want out of my congressman and senators is for them to put the brakes on those numbskulls who believe that the government is the solution to all problems whatsoever. If they just do this and resist spreading mommystate stupidity I consider them a success. Kerry, however, never did that either.

Posted by: Harry in Atlanta at August 9, 2004 2:32 AM
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