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The first governor in the entire history of the state not to seek re-election backed down, he says, because he’s already accomplished everything he set out to do. He’s already kicked a hundred thousand poor Missourians off Medicaid, he’s already handed out state business to his brother Andy’s lobbying clients, he’s already gotten himself embroiled in the Jack Abramoff scandal, he’s already been sued by his own lawyer for deliberately and illegally deleting state e-mails.

His satisfaction with his accomplishments puts me in mind of a passage from my favorite book, Catch-22. The protagonist, Yossarian, is a World War II bombardier who is in trouble with his superior officers for forcing his pilot to take him over a target twice.  

Colonel Cathcart doesn’t know how to save himself the humiliation of admitting that one of his officers went over the target twice. But Cathcart’s intelligent, unprincipled subordinate, Colonel Korn, has an idea:

“Why don’t we give him a medal?” Colonel Korn proposed.

“For going around twice? What can we give him a medal for?”

“For going around twice,” Colonel Korn answered with a reflective, self-satisfied smile. “After all, I suppose it did take a lot of courage to go over that target a second time with no other planes around to divert the anti-aircraft fire. And he did hit the bridge. You know, that might be the answer–to act boastfully about something we ought to be ashamed of. That’s a trick that never seems to fail.” (p.143)

The bolded words could almost be a summary of all Republican chutzpah, from Bush to Blunt, from Rove to Ed Martin, from Cheney to Rod Jetton.

There is a difference between Korn and Republicans, though. He was proposing to act boastfully about something that actually was worthy of a medal. Yossarian had been brave.

Matt Blunt doesn’t deserve any medals. Misourians knew it and they weren’t going to re-elect him.