Friday, December 12, 2008

A Regula guy

RETIRING CONGRESSMAN Ralph Regula, among the last of the vanishing breed of moderate Republicans on Capitol Hill, spoke at an Akron Press Club luncheon Friday with some words of advice to his political colleagues:   Constituents first.  The words appear on lapel pins worn by him and his staff.  The motto expressed his sentiments about the state of the GOP these days, which he said needed to be "a little bit more sensitive about the things that are important to the people."

That's asking a lot.  With Regula  leaving office after 36 years of represesenting the 16th District just south of Akron, those prescribed  sensitivities are even less likely to characterize the Republican Party today, Joe the Plumber notwithstanding.  The cruel action of those fat-and-happy southern Republicans who are quite pleased with their foreign auto factories stepped far over the line by blocking the bailout of the northern Big 3 American producers without kicking a tire.  Indeed, there seems to be something "anti-American" by pitting region against region when the entire economy is driving over a cliff.  With few available options, the GOP senators stood firmly against the lesser of two evils and challenged workers to eat cake instead.   
So there was Sen. Mitch McConnell, the owlish  union-hating Senate minority leader who led the assault on the proposal, offering the sort of condolence-light  that Tony 
Soprano might extend to the wife of a wiseguy that his own henchmen had just whacked.  "None of us want to see them go down," McConnell said sadly of the  Detroit crowd.  "But very few of us had anything to do with the dilemma they created for themselves." Well, sniffles!

When you put it that way, it may be technically true.  But when it's said by the Col. Sanders of the Senate who proudly supported spending  up to a trillion dollars for a miscast war halfway around the world to protect our security, you have to wonder why he wouldn't give a little to protect the security of armies of  workers at home.  I know why.

The conspicuous irony of such dark behavior is that McConnell was doubtless  the cheerleader for his wife, Elaine Chao, to be appointed by George Bush in 2001 as labor secretary. Her short bio notes that she is committed to "promoting the health, safety, retirement security and competiveness of the nation's workforce."  The senator and the labor secretary  obviously never talk business with each other on their days off.

MORE ON REGULA:  With University of Akron president Luis Proenza seated at the front table, Regula took the opportunity to defend the use of earmarks for home state projects that work, specifically noting a UA facility in Medina as an example of a worthy earmark. He was probably on the side of the angels in his defense of these special Federal outlays.  McCain's attacks on earmarks during the campaign created very little uplift for his chances and in fact may have aggrieved the voters still more.  So I ask: Who in the world earmarked earmarks as a critical issue to be exploited by McCain and Palin?  

Regula did support the Big 3 bailout and demonstrated over the years that he could act calmly with his colleagues across the aisle.  He worked closely with the late Rep. John  Seiberling of Akron on creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with a critical assist from the late Ray Bliss.  He also played a hand in delivering the cash for several other major projects in northern Ohio.  

In retirement  as an octogenarian,  Regula will now be able to spend more time back on his farm in Stark County.  He may find that the livestock that might show up on his  acreage will be a tad more civilized than some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gosh, Grumpy Abe: where's Proenza's boss Republican Jack Morrison, Jr., in this gentle appreciation of Congressman Regula? Talk about homegrown earmarking. . . .