Casting aside any semblance of personal honor or integrity, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) announced last week that he will break his personal term-limit pledge by seeking another term in Washington, come 2018.
“I’ve grown a lot,” explained the double first-named, third-term congressman from Oklahoma in addressing his double-cross of voters. Yes, Mullin has grown bigger and more full of himself during his time in the nation's capital, just as the federal government under his watch has grown bigger and more full of itself, too.
Still, even in an 11-minute fake news interview concocted and promoted by Congressman Mullin to explain his self-serving flip-flop, the pretentious potentate could not provide a direct answer to his chosen interviewer’s question, “Why?” — that is, why would you “believe that this decision is the right decision in spite of the commitment you made six years ago?”
Markwayne Mullin ran for Congress in 2012 highlighting his pledge to limit his tenure in Congress to the same six-year House limit Oklahoma voters enacted via initiative petition (which was later rendered unenforceable when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar limits in Arkansas). He was not a career politician.
As late as last year, just before he won the GOP primary in this very red state, Markwayne had reiterated to reporters his commitment to step down from power after three terms. But then, after his primary victory, the incumbent congressman’s mood seemed to change. He told a radio audience the following day that he was going to pray about his decision.
What “decision” is there, you ask? A choice for Mr. Mullin between maintaining his integrity . . . or going Washington.
“We understand that people are gonna be upset,” he told his interviewer. “And we get that; we understand it.” He even insinuated some bravery on his part:
“I’m not hiding from that.”
Of course, hiding is precisely what Congressman Mullin was doing: Avoiding tough questions from real journalists and creating his own sympathetic interview. Instead of holding a news conference, the representative found a friend to play journalist so he could dodge questions without consequences.
Every Washington politician knows that consequences are always to be avoided. Or inflicted on someone else. Someone without political power . . . or access thereto.
Sitting next to wife Christie in the released video confession, Markwayne expressed his odd recollection that the whole point of his original term-limit pledge was actually to protect him from being stuck in Washington any longer than he wanted to stay. Along with his wife, Markwayne apparently feared the negative impact a career in Congress could have on his business and family.
“The last thing we want is to make people think we’re going back on our word,” a reality-resistant, consequence-adverse Mullin told the Tulsa World. “At the time, we were sincere. But where we’re at today is a different situation.”
“At the time” . . . he had no power. Today’s “different situation”? He has power — has indeed tasted the sweet nectars of Washington’s money-go-round . . . and wants to stay a while longer. As long as he can “make a contribution.”
And to hear Congressman Mullin tell it, his presence in the halls of Congress already constitutes a mighty generous gift to the lucky Okies he deigns to represent. Back at town hall meetings in April, the mixed martial arts fighter turned businessman turned politician upbraided constituents, saying, “Bullcrap!”
He was responding to a challenge, the usual (and quite respectable) reminder that taxpayers pay his salary. “I pay for myself,” he implausibly countered. “I paid enough taxes before I got there and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”
Never mind the fact that these constituents do indeed cough up in taxes the $174,000 in annual salary paid to and deposited by Congressman Markwayne Mullin.
Politicians will concoct the most amazing farragoes to stay in office. That’s why we need a constitutional amendment that limits terms for all senators and representatives with certainty.
Funny, Rep. Mullin also signed a U.S. Term Limits pledge to sponsor or co-sponsor such an amendment. But the budding politician broke his word on that commitment, too.