The House of Representatives has more than its share of loons. While firebrands of both genders are found there, one would like to think the Senate considers itself to be the “grown-ups table.” Republican Congresswomen all too often seem as if they fill character parody roles crafted by late night comedy writers. North Carolina is usually good for a couple of crazy grannies. Michele Bachmann needs no introduction, despite the irresistible temptation to lampoon her latest gaffe. Twisted sisters; not that CongressMEN are any less certifiable for psychotropics administered by famed One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest head psych Nurse Ratched. “Medication time.”
I didn’t have to go far for the next rare Republican woman to try to move to the august upper chamber. Despite the temptation to mention Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)’s lineage from her former governor and federal prison inmate daddy Arch Moore (R), Rep. Capito has served numerous terms without making a fool of herself. My dear late mother hailed from the coal fields of southern West Virginia, and I recall her quipping to this native New Yorker that “a term in the Charleston state house was all too often followed by a stretch in the Big House.” It isn’t Louisiana, where corruption, peccadilloes, and gaffes are art forms subject to the laughter and applause meter. The crooks certainly were not all from the Party of the Lincoln Navigator SUV. It hasn’t been easy for Capito to succeed, but she has become well-known as that rarest of modern political birds, the “moderate” Republican.
It’s not considered particularly genteel to judge the offspring from the foibles of their fathers, but it is long-popular joke material in the Mountain State to remember Daddykins the Crooked Governor. In appealing to get his law license back, he regretted being caught. While she has been a fairly predictable partisan G.O.P. caucus vote, she does support a woman’s right to choose, the auto industry bailout, and No Child Left Behind. Her legislative rating by a Conservative think tank barely busts 70%. Needless to say, the Far-Right aren’t cheering her campaign launch with a ticker tape parade. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and the Koch-bankrolled Club for Growth wasted little time to start soaking the tea bags in kerosene to roast Shelly at the stake for heresy.
Over the past dozen years in mountain exile, where being a liberal columnist in newsprint can and did get road kill possum flung on my porch, West Virginia politics is a strange critter indeed. They “sure know how to pick ‘em” when it comes to Republicans choosing Senatorial wannabes to run under the elephantine party banner. Multimillionaires who “made their money the old fashioned way. They inherited it.” They just imported a new Attorney General from New Jersey, where no corruption perp walk is complete without a rabbi. Fortunately for Democrats here, fools abound in the state G.O.P.
Rep. Capito is a formidable contender, if her own party doesn’t torpedo her first. At 75, incumbent Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) had better chug an entire bottle of Geritol before a reelection battle with Capito. The reddish color shift has been ongoing here, even before a black guy had the temerity to live in the White House. Mountaineers ought to be careful what they pray for. Democrats brought home the disproportionate pile of Federal dollars which kept the subject of John Denver’s “Country Roads” song from avoiding the fate of an unwanted Bain Capital acquisition carcass.