Brian Birdnow

Please do not be confused, or warned off by the title of this column. The reader need not fear that this will serve as the opening to romantic verse worthy of John Keats or Lord Byron. The “Liberal Lion” in question is U.S. Representative George Miller III, a Democrat of California, and the writer of the praiseful ode is E.J. Dionne, the Democratic Party shill who draws his weekly paycheck from the Washington Post. Last week Mr. Dionne mounted his soapbox and publicly wondered if one could be a “tough liberal”, committed to all the progressive clichés, and still be able to “work across the aisle” i.e. to compromise enough to pass substantive legislation. Dionne cites the sainted Teddy Kennedy as the perfect Senator who could live up to this ideal. He then moves to the point of his article and cites, as the perfect congressional exemplar of his ideal, U.S. Representative George Miller III, who last week, announced that he would retire at the end of the current congressional session.

Dionne waxes rhapsodic over George Miller, lauding him for his pugnacity, saying “He (Miller) loves a lively legislative scrap.” Similarly Dionne sings praises to Miller for his compassion and concern for the working class, which he demonstrates by supporting an extension of unemployment benefits in perpetuity, and his undoubted disdain for Republicans which Dionne demonstrates by quoting Miller thusly: “Miller offers an astringent analysis of what is keeping Republicans from engaging in this kind of healthy give-and-take today.” The answer, according to Miller, is monetary greed. Yet, in almost the same breath, E. J. Dionne insists that George Miller, when not accusing the GOP of “…voter suppression efforts and procedural shenanigans” as well as “…abetting obstruction in the abuse of the filibuster”, and employing “…unlimited, anonymous, dark money” is an affable fellow who can “…brawl and negotiate at the same time.” Mr. Dionne then invokes the memory of the late Senator Kennedy again, as an ideal to be imitated, and suggests that Congressman Miller has done this very well.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.