There is something interesting happening in Arizona (when isn’t there though). Gov. Brewer has accused the head of the Independent Redistricting Committee of “gross misconduct” and “removed” her from said position by a 2/3 vote of the state Senate. Here’s an article on the details of what happened but if you like a summary, let me spell it out for you.
The commission was created as a result of a ballot initiative approved by the citizens of Arizona in 2000. The commission was purposely created to REMOVE politicans from the process. The commission had recently redrawn the district lines and neither party (GOP or Democratic) were happy with the results. Which to me sounds like they did their job. If politicians from both parties were complaining then then they weren’t catered to. Evidently, Gov. Brewer decided she was just a little more upset than anyone else and accused the head of gross misconduct.
Gross misconduct, unfortunately, has a long history of being purposely and erroneously defined by the GOP so Gov. Brewer’s actions aren’t really all that shocking. Let’s take a look at how the GOP’s long tradition of blowing out of proportion misbehavior by Democratic politicians and underplaying the misbehavior of their own members.
Remember the Iran-Contra scandal? Little was done or said to President Reagan in regards to it–this direct violation of the constitutional separation of powers (not to mention an incredibly dangerous precedent that he set by going around Congress’ hold on the purse strings). Nothing has happened to Senators Vitter, Ensign, Hyde, and Craig, nor to former SC Governor Sanford. On the Democratic side, Pres. Clinton was impeached for lying about a blow job<sup>1</sup> and his party lost control of Congress making his second term a complete waste of time. A slew of Democratic politicians have been forced to resign for sexual scandals like Hart, McGreevey, Spitzer, and most recently Weiner.
To extend it a little further, I would also like to list some other scandals that Republicans have been in involved in and subsequently gotten away without any consequences. Remember Clarence Thomas? He was being vetted for SCOTUS and charges of sexual harassment were leveled at him from his time at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (ironically enough)….the GOP wasn’t accepting any criticism of the guy. He was confirmed by the Senate anyway. What about the Democrats accused of sexual harassment? Well here’s three names–Massa, Wu, and Kratz–they all resigned. See how that works? Republican you get a pass and get promoted. Democrat and you resign and count yourself lucky.
Shall I continue? Remember Newt Gingrich? If you’re foggy you might remember him as the guy who left his first wife while she was in the hospital dealing with cancer to be with his mistress who he then married. Then he left his second wife after they found out she had MS to be with another mistress, who became his third wife. Of course, all this philandering and remarrying happened not long after he led the calls for impeachment of Clinton for his own philandering (irony again, hmmmm, interesting). Anyone in the MSM who mentions Gingrich’s sordid past is pooh-poohed as being crass and uncouth. Again Pres. Clinton faces legal consequences, Newt gets a pass from the MSM and runs as a “values candidate” for the GOP nomination in 2011.
Want someone more contemporary? How about Herman Cain? Within the last couple of days he’s been accused of sexually harassing at least three different women during his tenure at the National Restaurant Association. I have yet to see the irony here EXCEPT to say that Mr. Cain is real big on touting his Christian credentials (as are his Tea Party and evangelical base). However I don’t remember any incidents in the Bible of Jesus sexually harassing or even being accused of sexual harassment. The right wing media (which these days is pretty much everyone) is too busy defending him….you know, bitches had it coming or some such kind of mentality. Nothing new there…..
Another example? Rep. Allen West of Florida while in the Army and stationed in Iraq engaged in some VERY questionable investigatory techniques<sup>2</sup> and was subsequently ejected from the military as a result. Later during his campaign (documented on Youtube) he used violent language and calls to his supporters to take up arms. Once elected to Congress he hired a man as chief of staff who has openly advocated violence against the U.S. Straight out, openly advocated–let me be clear….his chief of staff has advocated TREASON and Rep. Allen hasn’t even blinked. Add to this delicious stew of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, Rep. Allen has befriended the Outlaws motorcycle gang, even using them to intimidate rivals and voters. This guy has done and said so many awful things (anti-semitic, mysoginistic, violent, etc) that I’d need a book to document it all. Has the GOP disowned him, dressed him down, or told him to cool it? Not at all. Indeed they’ve rallied around him in support.
Compare Rep. Allen’s treatment by the GOP to how they treated then candidate Obama in 2008 when they found out Obama had known Bill Ayers, former 1960’s activist and at that time, domestic terrorist. Candidate Obama admitted that he knew Bill Ayers…..because they lived in the same neighborhood and served on a board together–30 years or so after Ayers had moved far beyond his early activist days, once he had been accepted back into the law abiding community. The right reacted with fainting spells, red-faced apoplexy, and warnings of impending doom (and I’m sure there was some Manchurian candidate references thrown in for good measure). Once again, if the accused is a Republican you don’t even hear about it on the MSM (I had to LOOK for the info on West) but for the info on Pres. Obama I simply had to be watching the news at any point in the last 5 years. See how that works?
There’s all kinds of non-politican examples as well. If an American citizen engages in politically motivated violence as a leftwing nutjob and they’re labeled a terrorist. Engage in violence as a rightwing American nutjob and they’re simply called criminals (or in some cases “Hannity fans”)<sup>3</sup>. It’s the difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh (or Eric Rudolph or the four elderly yutzes arrested yesterday in Florida for plotting to kill as many people as possible with ricin and guns….this list of rightwing supposed criminals is very long btw)<sup>4</sup>.
The moral of story has become IOKIYAR<sup>5</sup>. So back to our current situation in Arizona. The 21-6 party line vote to remove Colleen Coyle Mathis (again an Independent) was based on a clause that states she could be removed for “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office.” The Gov. also tried to get rid of the two Democratic members of the commission but failed to get enough votes to remove them (thank goodness!) Typically gross misconduct is personal behavior that egregious such as taking a bribe or peddling influence. But nothing of the sort has been alleged by the Governor, who is currently not even in-state.
Was there neglect by Mathis? NO, because the job got done. There was clearly no “inability” since Ms. Mathis was ready, willing and quite able. Her only crime, in Gov. Brewer’s eyes, was actually performing her duties. She convened the commission, studied the districts, looked at the increase in demographics and voting patterns and the entire commission redrew the lines exactly as they were directed to do by Federal standards and state law.
No,what Gov. Brewer objected to was the “drafts” of maps that had been produced for a 30-day window of public comment. These drafts created based on six criteria. Two of those include protecting of minority voting rights and equal population in each district. Since the state of AZ’s population has exploded in the last 10 years it was inevitable that the district lines would shift. Furthermore that shift would most likely be more democratic because the percentage of democratic voters has increased (demographics increasing in the areas of hispanics, the young, etc). There’s nothing biased about it if it reflect reality.
But as history has proven time and time again, the GOP (and Gov. Brewer) isn’t really concerned with reality. After all, when you have all the political office and all the media outlets sown up, reality can be whatever you want it to be. And shaping reality is VERY important for the upcoming 2012 elections.
1. I don’t think that perjury about a personal matter qualifies as “high crimes and misdemeanors”, which means crimes against the state in order to bring about the downfall of said state.
2. Physical assault, assault with a deadly weapon, improper use of a firearm, use of torture to elicit confession, etc, etc, etc…..
3. Yes, that’s right Sean Hannity of Fox happily called his fans “Timoty McVeigh wannabes”…he must be so proud
4. The right is now claiming these old idjits were framed…..yeah right…..it’s SO EASY to entice someone to commit treason, isn’t it?! Like stealing candy from a baby.
5. It’s Okay If You’re a Republican