Over the holidays, a friend and I spent three hours listening to KBOI's Nate Shelman show, recorded December 22, with Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick sitting in as guest host. About midway through the show, Chuck called in from Boise insisting, his voice quivering with a rage that he admitted having difficulty controlling, that people with preexisting medical conditions didn't deserve health insurance because they didn't have the foresight to obtain insurance beforehand. Seriously. He equated it to someone wrecking their car and then trying to buy car insurance to cover the damage. He was angry at the prospect of losing his insurance and being "forced on a government plan" and vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that Minnick never serve another day in Congress if he voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi one more time. I'm pretty sure he wasn't threatening any physical harm but he was pretty worked up.
Minnick's response? Up against a news break, Minnick used his thirty seconds to cite a Washington Post article that labeled him the congressman with the most independent voting record in either party. Maybe to him, Walt's voting record is more important than whether or not people with preexisting conditions can get health care, but it's unconscionable that when given the opportunity to correct this gross misconception to an audience so desperately and obviously in need of it, Walt used the time to grovel for votes and tout his "independent" voting record.
Over last summer and into the fall Minnick made no secret of his distaste for the health care reform bill eventually passed by the House. In fact much like Gov. Butch Otter's unfounded, recent threats to sue the federal government upon enactment of any reform, Minnick attempted to beef up his anti-govm'nt credentials by scaring Idahoans with co-opted buzz words like "big government takeover" and "socialized medicine." Walt even appeared at a TEA Party-hosted town hall where he took the opportunity to skewer Boise's North End Democrats (who had generously given time and money to his campaign), implying they were more extreme than this tea party fringe.
Even then we knew of the fringe-y ideas held by this tea party crowd
These are people who believe that they need to "take their government back" by holding constitutional conventions, who are encouraged to quit paying taxes until "their grievances are redressed," that the President isn't President and that the U.S. is on the verge of Fascism.
but since those heady days of summer, it seems the whole GOP rug has unraveled leaving nothing but fringe. When a U.S. Senator tells Americans from the floor of the Senate that they ought to be praying for the demise of a fellow Senator—and Americans do it—something has gone terribly awry.
Crazy North End Democrats indeed.
Gone are the days when Walt Minnick could speak movingly about his experiences with a health care system badly in need of reform or call Bill Sali extreme with a straight face.
No one expected that Walt would be the embodiment of a liberal lion once in Congress, but most Democrats hoped he would at least occasionally emit a cub's mew. Unfortunately he can't even do that. Walt's turned out to be a completely different species.