The Corner


Kathryn, Broun has a fine record on some issues (as you and I both see it), and, in the context of this debate, it’s worth noting that he is (importantly) a veteran. Nevertheless, when I read about that use of taxpayer money I don’t see a particularly good guy, and when I consider his bullying approach to today’s US military I end up deciding that the use of the word “clown” is, if anything, too mild. I was tempted by the rhyme, I admit it. Then again, I’ll also admit to thinking that the word “clown” can often be more complimentary than “congressman…”.

In the interests of balance, here’s an extract from a sort-of-admiring profile of Broun that ran in Reason:

Broun, a self-described “strict constitutionalist,” believes that the income tax should be abolished, that civil liberties degraded since 9/11 should be restored, and that fetuses deserve American citizenship. He has been married four times; opponents grumble that he performs house calls because hospitals won’t hire him. This isn’t the usual background of somebody who gets elected in Georgia. So how did Broun get to Congress? After Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) died of cancer last February, 10 candidates—six Republicans, three Democrats, and one Libertarian—fought for his seat. The entire Republican establishment, from Norwood’s widow to local party leaders, endorsed a venerable state senator named Jim Whitehead. To them, Broun was a meandering fringe candidate who had squandered his good name (his father was a state senator from Athens) in three previous defeats: a 1990 House race, a 1992 House primary, and a 1996 Senate primary. In the last contest, he finished fourth, with only 3 percent of the vote.Whitehead ran a front-runner’s campaign, skipping debates and promising to continue Norwood’s moderate conservative legacy. Broun ran the same campaign he always has, pledging to support bills only if they fit a quirky four-part test: They have to be moral (according to the Bible), constitutional (according to the version he keeps in his suit pocket), necessary (according to logic), and affordable (according to a balanced federal budget)…There are two reasons why Broun’s career is worth examining closely. The first is Broun himself. He compares himself happily to Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the anti-war libertarian presidential candidate: Both men are physicians who carry pocket Constitutions and often find themselves on the losing side of congressional votes. (Broun likes Paul, but he doesn’t share Paul’s views on Iraq and won’t make a presidential endorsement.) The day he was sworn in, Broun joined just 13 other Republicans (and 150 Democrats) in supporting a bill to call off raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration on medical marijuana distributors. He was one of only four congressmen to oppose the Drug Endangered Children Act, which allocated $20 million to take care of children living among drugs and drug dealers, and one of three to vote against establishing a new registry to keep track of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (“Lou Gehrig’s disease”).

Read the whole thing, and make of it what you will.


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