In the spirit of the new year, which is rife with “best of” and “worst of” lists, I thought I would offer a compilation of my candidates for Missouri’s own political hall of shame–with the hope that some of you will supplement the list with your own favorites. I must admit that my malicious fervor has been inspired by Michael Tomasky’s list of the 19 Worst Americans of 2008, which appeared in the U.K’s Guardian, and which I urge you to read for the edification of your idle moments.
In the process of making my selections, I noticed that most of my candidates fell into one of two main categories. One can undoubtedly draw any number of conclusions about the state of Missouri politics from that fact.
First there is what I call the “frat boys,” the mostly youthful, privileged bubbas who have gleefully trashed the wellbeing of Missouri’s citizens in the service of corrupt and addle-pated conservative economic ideology. Not surprisingly, some of the most prominent of these types have high-tailed it out of office now that the chickens are coming home to roost. Say what you will about Illinois’ Blagojevich, at least he has the intestinal fortitude to stick around and thumb his nose at those who are trying to bring him down–here in Missouri our blustering little boys run as soon as they smell blood.
In the second category are those Christo-fascists who, while more than willing to support the revival of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism and its ugly excesses, devote their real enthusiasm to the holy work of Christian triumphalism. These are the values legislators, where “values” is written with great big, ugly, gothic-medieval letters.
My necessarily selective list of good-ole-boy wannabes and evangelical bullies can be found below the fold:
1. Matt Blunt. What can I say! It would be hard to equal the arrogance and sheer incompetence shown by this year’s email-gate and the inept efforts to smear Scott Eckersley–not to mention the tidy bundle these escapades will have cost the citizens of Missouri. And this is after four years of working overtime to turn Missouri into a third-world preserve where the business oligarchy rules supreme. We can only be grateful that Blunt finally managed to actually embarrass himself to the point that he decided to declare victory, stamp paid on the markers held by Daddy’s cronies, and decamp poste haste.
2. Ed Martin. The Governor’s ex-Chief of Staff earned his high position on this list for his work as the consigliere and general wheeler-dealer for Sweet Baby Blunt’s Missouri Mafia. Martin was probably the chief engineer of the email-gate scandal and related Eckersley smear job that, in the absence of any further shoe-falls, we assume led to Baby’s final crash. Although this is a worst of 2008 list, Blunt’s Karl Rove has so besmirched the governor’s office over the past few years that one could consider this a life-time achievement award.
3. Rod Jetton.. Jetton, the term-limited Speaker of the Missouri House, really exemplifies the frat-boy ethos of recent Missouri governance. Who can forget the way he heckled then Governor Holden during the State of the State address back in 2004? His moonlighting with Common Sense Conservative Consulting LLC constituted such a blatant conflict of interest that it prompted fellow Republican, Sarah Steelman, to propose new ethics rules specifically intended to end what she termed his “abuse of power.” He has continued to offer many little diversions of the sort that you expect from the Animal House crowd, such as his remarks about immigrants vs. lazy Missourians (who have the gall to expect a living wage) early last February.
4. Jason Crowell. Jetton’s good friend and spiritual twin in the State Senate, Crowell is most notable for taking Jetton’s heckling one step further, and making farting and siren noises to drown out the opposition during debate–while serving in the role of Senate Leader no less. If Blunt can make the dubious claim to have achieved all his goals, much of the credit has to go to Crowell’s senate leadership, which helped to dismantle government for the people in Missouri and turn the state into a reservation run for the benefit wealthy business pals. He is, as his unsuccessful opponent in this year’s election put it, mostly notable for his close relationship with lobbyists, many of whom have had business before the legislature. And of course there is the little detail of his $4,500 monthly payments to his pal Rod Jetton, who has been employed by Crowell in his subsidiary role as a political consultant.
5. Todd Akin. Okay, so Akin (U.S. Representative, 2nd district) is my favorite bête noir, but, you have to admit that, my prejudices aside, he has racked up a really evil record. During the past year, his abysmal voting record on important issues like FISA continued unabated, as well as his on-going campaign to legislate the dominance of rightwing Christianity.
Imagine the self-righteous arrogance that led the fool to actually meddle in Uruguayan politics in the cause of keeping that country abortion free–via a letter to Uruguayan legislators where he claimed to be concerned about the exploitation of women no less! Then there is H.Res.598, which he introduced last year at the behest of the Ten Commandments Commission in order to establish “a day in which we can come together and celebrate God’s eternal moral law.”
Akin weighed in, of course, on the issues in the presidential campaign. I don’t mean that he actually had anything substantive to say, he just want to proclaim that the campaign was “about one thing, … It’s a referendum on socialism.” Guess who he thinks the socialist was?
6. Jane Cunningham. I guess I will have to rend my garments and wail since dear old Jane, Missouri House Rep., 86th district, managed to put her unfortunately considerable organizational skills, hard work ethic, and superior financing to good use to defeat an excellent but ridiculously underfunded Democratic candidate for the State Senate seat vacated by the term-limited John Loudon. In short, although term-limited in the House, she isn’t going away. What to expect from Senator Jane? I think that this little gem says it all:
The only thing that is needed to complete the picture is Queen Jane’s launch of the Sarah Sisters, an organization “based on the general principles that Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin has exemplified by fighting corruption, even within her own party, and by putting the taxpayers first and standing up for what is right.” Oh . . . right.
7. Cynthia Davis. State Representative Davis ((19th District) likes to suppress all kinds of activities. Ms. Davis was so concerned that “over half the perpetuators of 9/11 were registered to vote” in the U.S. that she introduced a bill to require verification of citizenship when folks register to vote. That couldn’t possibly result in voter suppressin, could it?. Then there is her perennial effort to legislatively suppress the right to choice–which she is carrying over into the next legislative session. Her approach is to try to mandate that doctors give pregnant women medically questionable information about fetal pain, and to make efforts to “coerce” abortion illegal. She seems to believe that “the primary reason women get an abortion is pressure from family members or a spouse. ” Finally, don’t forget her glee that McDonald’s has seen the light and withdrawn its support of the homosexual agenda. You get the ugly picture I imagine.