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.
Many Townhall readers remember Teddy Kennedy’s disgraceful character assassination of Judge Robert Bork back in 1987, and the Senator’s many public indiscretions over the years are common knowledge. Regardless of these facts the reader might want to take a closer look at Congressman George Miller’s life and his career. The real George Miller is sixty-eight years old and was first elected to Congress in 1974. Miller, whose father was a long-time California state senator, completed law school in 1972 and immediately prepared a campaign for Congress as a Democrat, running from an affluent district in the north San Francisco Bay area. Miller won in the anti-Nixon landslide of 1974, and was sworn in with a large class of fellow Democrats. He is one of only three continuously serving “Watergate babies” left in national politics, along with fellow California Rep. Henry Waxman, and, of course, Vice-President Joe Biden. Congressman Miller, like the Vice-President, has never had a job in the private sector. He won a congressional seat and held it for forty years. Yet, E.J. Dionne sees nothing negative about the existence of a permanent political class, completely divorced from the day-to-day life of ordinary Americans, as long as that class is composed of leftwing-liberals.
Continuing our look at Congressman Miller, we see that he has been ranked the most liberal member of the House of Representatives for eighteen of his forty years in Congress. The National Journal ranked him as the most liberal member of congress in 2013, tying with six other Democrats for this dubious distinction. Miller notes today that he first ran in 1974 on a pledge to end the Vietnam War, not knowing, perhaps, that the American role in the war ended in January of 1973. Miller has been an unabashed supporter of a single-payer health care system and he proudly voted for Obamacare, although he has stopped crowing about the ACA recently.
E.J. Dionne approvingly notes Miller’s “tough liberalism” but also insists that Miller could and would get what he wanted through old fashioned political horse trading if strong-armed tactics or bluster failed to work, and he cites the No Child Left Behind Act as evidence of his assertion. Dionne does not state that No Child Left Behind has been a terrible blunder, embodying most of the misguided liberal sociological-pedagogical thinking of the 1960s and 70s and centered on the twin mistakes of federal control of local schools and the idea that any difficulty can be solved by simply throwing massive amounts of money at the problem.
Congressman Miller certainly enjoyed the perks associated with serving in Congress, in addition to collecting a salary that placed him in the top 1% of American wage earners. In January of 2012 Roll Call magazine named Miller as the member of Congress who had accepted the most free travel for the previous year. During the same time frame Congressman Miller and his son, a professional lobbyist, were implicated in a blossoming controversy including a $1.2 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan to the struggling SunPower Corporation. The company paid Miller’s son and his lobbying firm $138,000 to represent them. The DOE awarded the loan guarantee one day before the program from which the money had been disbursed was scheduled to expire. In the ensuing investigation Congressman Miller insisted that he never discussed legislative matters with his son, although his son, George Miller IV, openly boasts of his official Washington connections. The mainstream media, including Dionne’s employer, the Washington Post showed little interest in this brewing scandal.
The reason that Congressman Miller has earned the admiration of E. J. Dionne, however, is quite clear. Dionne, of course, has stated that Miller is a lovable “…bear of a man”, but is also tough as nails. In practice this translates into Miller lambasting the Republicans and Dionne is drawn to this siren song like a moth to the flame. Congressman Miller warns ominously that unseen GOP forces dedicated to starving the elderly, closing the schools, reimposing segregation, suppressing the vote and dispensing more corporate welfare are alive and well and working to the detriment of the quite put-upon American people.
So, there you have it! E. J. Dionne pens a nostalgic elegy to a career politician who has never worked a day in the private sector, who poses as a champion of the working class but knows little of the nation outside of the privileged enclaves of North Bay and Georgetown, and who proclaims that he can “work across the aisle” with the Republicans while slandering and defaming them at the same time. Yet E. J. Dionne says, “Congress could use more liberals who can brawl and negotiate at the same time.” Townhall readers might well ask E. J. Dionne a simple question: Why?