Foxx and Fort Hood

by Jim Longworth

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when elected officials could disagree without being disagreeable. They could deliberate without being disrespectful. John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater were political adversaries, yet the two were good friends and had planned to campaign together in 1964, performing whistle-stop debates throughout the country. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil squared off on politics by day, but dined and drank together by night. Somewhere along the way things turned ugly in DC, and civility became a lost art.

During the Bush/Cheney/Rove years, anyone opposing the administration was fired, defamed, outed or put on the terrorist watch list. And anyone who criticized Bush’s illegal war in Iraq was labeled unpatriotic. Everyone was fair game and nothing was out of bounds. That set the stage for today’s atmosphere of maniacal partisanship and utter lack of decorum.

Now out of power, right-wing Republicans are prone to shouting matches at rigged town hall meetings, shouting down the president at joint sessions and shouting out scary lies about anything and everything, all in an effort to obstruct much needed public policy. Much to the dismay and embarrass ment of North Carolinians, the champion of this new brand of destructive politics is Rep. Virginia Foxx.

Once a hardworking representative, Foxx has turned into a female Glenn Beck, whose off-the-wall remarks have both incited and insulted decent Americans. Foxx’s transition from public servant to public menace occurred almost overnight. True she has always been very conservative, and she was an ardent supporter of Bush’s senseless war. But as soon as President Barack Obama was sworn in this year, Foxx became a mean-spirited gaffe machine for the GOP, and was voted by fellow legislators as the second-most partisan Republican on Capitol Hill.

In trying to defeat a jobs bill, Foxx described the legislation as “teaching our people to work for the government.” This from a woman who has spent most of her life working for one public agency or another.

In April while speaking to students at North Surry High School, Foxx implied that tobacco was no more of a health risk than Mountain Dew. Then, back in Washington while trying to defeat a hate-crimes bill, she proclaimed that the murder of Matthew Shephard had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

In July she made national headlines by suggesting that theDemocrats’ health care bill would include death panels to euthanizeseniors. Then, last week, Foxx added to the partisan hype by making thefollowing outrageous statement:

“Thegreatest fear we all should have to our freedom comes from this room[House chamber], and what may happen later this week in terms of atax-increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we havemore to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do fromany terrorist right now in any country.”

Fourdays later, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and wounded 30others at the readiness center at Fort Hood, Texas. Gen. BarryMcCaffrey (ret.) told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “This was a domesticterrorist attack.”

Hasan,it seems, was distraught at his impending deployment to Afghanistan toparticipate in a war which he opposed, and which Virginia Foxx hadhelped sustain. The convergence of these two personalities istragically ironic.

Foxxtold us we should fear health care reform more than terrorism becausehealth care would cost taxpayers too much money. But one has only tolook at the figures from the Congressional budget office to see thehypocrisy of Foxx’s words.

TheBaucus bill, which Foxx argued against, would have cost $830 billionover 10 years, but it would also have cut the federal deficit by makinghealth care more affordable. Meanwhile, the cost of Foxx’s wars in Iraqand Afghanistan is $697 billion and $230 billion respectively over aperiod of eight years, and experts say that amount will eventually top$2 trillion.

Thatmeans health care reform will cost less than wars we shouldn’t befighting in the first place. The truth is, people don’t fear healthcare reform, they fear losing their health insurance, or not being ableto pay already high premiums that insurers can still raise at will.

IfI were an alarmist partisan, I would conclude that the Fort Hoodmassacre was Virginia Foxx’s fault for forcing Hasan into a war heopposed, then goading him into a shooting spree because she said weweren’t afraid of terrorists. But I’m not partisan. Like most of you Iam an American with a brain and a shred of decency. Hasan should neverhave been recruited, given his incendiary writings at Virginia Tech,and he should never have been promoted, given his blogsite support ofsuicide bombers. Nevertheless, once he was well entrenched in themilitary, Hasan should never have slipped through the cracks of thevery medical discipline which he practiced. He is, to use thevernacular, “crazy.” In other words, Rep. Foxx, he is a partisan.

JimLongworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m.on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cablechannel 15).