Thanks to the Sun News, the Cleveland weekly, we recently got a glimpse of Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci in action at a Town Hall meeting in Fairview Park. The dominant topic was guns, largely because a group of pickets showed up to protest his standardized Republican opposition to gun control.
As you know, the multimillionaire businessman (reported by Roll Call to be $35.8 million!) is comfortably operating out of the new Ohio 16th congressional district created just for him in northern Ohio.
Still, Renacci, now in his second term, is taking no chances; he’s not slipping out of the right-wing mask on this issue, and is advising his listeners that guns don’t kill people, only the mentally ill do. ” I believe that when it comes to guns, the biggest issue is the mental health issue,” the paper reported his comments to his restless audience.
Safe enough for the easily persuaded. But it’s right out of Wayne LaPierre’s playbook. The problem with it is, nobody – particularly tight-fisted Republicans – can tell us how, when, where and to whom does the country direct its attention on the mentally ill gun owners? (When the late Republican Gov. Jim Rhodes was advised of complaints about the state’s shabby mental health system, he shrugged, ”Those people [patients] don’t vote anyway.”
No one can deny that the mentally ill need all of the attention that society can offer. But it will require a lot more money than the budget balancers would be willing to spend over endless time. So when guys like Renacci try to divert attention from guns by addressing mental health, he should be asked: Where do you go from here? Specifics are never clearly offered and it becomes a talking points abstraction. On the other hand, simply limiting the size of magazine rounds alone would be helpful.
Renacci, the former mayor of Wadsworth, built his wealth with investments in nursing homes, motorcycles and minor league baseball. He describes himself as a “common-sense congressman,” and denies that that he is serving at the pleasure of the NRA – a group with which he was tied for first place nationally for campaign support. Renacci’s cut of the NRA pie was a mere $9,900, but when you have your very own safe district thanks to redistricting, you don’t need much more,
“You keep saying that I’m listening to the NRA,” Renacci protested to the Town Hall group, “but I’ve got to keep telling you, the NRA has never come to my office and said anything. I am a proponent of the Second Amendment.”
Can we then assume that the check was in the mail?
Abe Zaidan has been a professional journalist and freelance writer for more than forty years. He was the Ohio correspondent for the Washington Post, as well as a political columnist at the Akron Beacon Journal.