Editorial: Congressman Clone?

Despite constituent calls, Rep. Eric Cantor’s Republican leadership did not allow the bipartisan Farm Bill to come to a vote before Congress adjourned last Saturday. House Democrats – chanting “work, work, work” – had noted that since the 2008 agriculture laws expire at the end of this month, to adjourn was irresponsible. Many Republican legislators agreed, but our House majority leader was apparently not keen to be seen as bipartisan right before the November election.

This is the first Congress since 1960 to recess this early for the campaign season, and this 112th Congress is set to enter the Congressional record books as the least productive body in the post-World War II era. It seems Rep. Cantor is more interested in being “right” than in actually governing.

In November, we here in Rappahannock County will not have the opportunity to let Rep. Cantor know directly how we feel, since we have been redistricted/gerrymandered out of his 7th congressional district. But we will have the opportunity to choose whether we want our new congressman to continue in lockstep with Eric Cantor’s uncompromising leadership.

We therefore need to ask Rep. Robert Hurt, the 5th congressional district’s incumbent Republican, that very question. We already know the answer that his Democratic challenger, Gen. John Douglass, would obviously give. But we should try to understand why Rep. Hurt seems to have become a different person since he arrived in Rep. Cantor’s Big Washington two years ago as the 5th district’s freshman representative.

When Rep. Hurt served in Virginia’s General Assembly, for example, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters gave him their second highest rating in 2007. That is, he voted as an environmentalist 83 percent of the time! Indeed, in a get-acquainted interview with the Rappahannock News some months ago, Rep. Hurt confirmed his deep roots in Virginia’s unspoilt natural landscape (which requires environmental regulations to stay that way).

How, then, to explain his 11-percent rating (one of the worst!) on environmental issues (from the national League of Conservation Voters) as a member of Congress? That (not coincidentally?) is the exact same rating earned by Rep. Cantor!

We can only hope that there is an explanation other than Rep. Hurt’s simply putting party before country.

Walter Nicklin