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The Weirdness of Parker Griffith

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Weirdness of Parker Griffith"

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My girlfriend has experience in Alabama politics, so I was talking about the Parker Griffith situation with her last night and frankly the more you think about it the more it just seems weird. His stated rationale feels like it was copy-and-pasted from the party switchers of yore, but normally when this happens the switcher is some kind of veteran legislator protesting that his old party has become too extreme. But as Ed Kilgore says, this is ridiculous—he’s a freshman who’s first campaign for national office happened in 2008:

[H]is protestations that he had to change parties because of some shocking new ideological development in the Democratic Party is total, absolute, conscious b.s. Griffith’s not some crusty old long-time incumbent whose party changed without him; he was first elected in 2008, when Barack Obama was running on a platform promising climate change and health care reform legislation, and going along with George W. Bush’s decision to rescue the financial industry. Nancy Pelosi, whom Griffith is now attacking, wasn’t any less liberal then that she is today. Sure, he needs to play catch-up with his new party-mates in shrieking about socialism and the destruction of the U.S. Constitution, but nobody should be under any illusion that anything has changed since 2008 other than Parker Griffith’s assessment of his re-election prospects.

Right. Absolutely nothing has changed. He signed up in 2008 to run to be a member of Nancy Pelosi’s congressional majority. And he is! The dominant thinking at the House leadership was that members from conservative districts should be given a lot of leeway to vote “no” on key legislative priorities. And they have been! Griffith’s voted against ARRA, against ACES, against health care, and even against financial regulatory reform and nobody’s broken his knees over it.

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