Under the cover of safe seats and safe votes, three-fourths of the Idaho congressional delegation got to deal with the government shutdown showdown in pretty predictable ways.
Instead of voting yes with 81 colleagues, Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo had the option of voting with the 18 opponents without having to shoulder the responsibility that their negative votes could tip the scale and send the country into default and a third expensive and ridiculous week of shutdown. And Rep. Raul Labrador, who voted no in the House along with 143 other Republicans, will not be able to call Risch and Crapo pussyfooters in the near future.
During a CNN interview Tuesday, Labrador referred to some unnamed Republican senators by that name because, in his estimation, they are not going after the countrys debt with the fervor he and like-minded House colleagues display.
Though I dont for an instant question the conviction behind the shutdown votes of Risch, Crapo and Labrador, my award for getting up on the skyline exposing yourself as a target for criticism and political harm goes to Rep. Mike Simpson, who is facing a May 2014 primary challenge from Bryan Smith. Simpson was one of only 87 House Republicans to vote yes for the funding tourniquet that is supposed to keep us from default until Feb. 7.
Is it irony or poetry that the date is just past Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, when the possibility exists that we could get to do the shutdown all over again? Perhaps we can get Bill Murray of the so-named movie to play Sen. Ted Cruz this time. There is a strong resemblance, and the possibility that Murray could manipulate the situation to a better advantage than Cruz as Murrays character does in the 1993 movie.
Our delegations participation in Shutdown U.S.A was kind of like jumping in one of the states swift rivers during runoff. Each member knew it was going to be cold and treacherous, and it was only a matter of time before the river would bring them back to shore/reality or worse.
So why did they jump in the first place? What did they accomplish in the river? What didnt get done on shore while they and many of us were being swept downstream?
Our delegation has some explaining to do based on sampling snippets of online comments we have been receiving at the Statesman:
Patty Stewart: Mike Simpson, maybe, just maybe, gets a reprieve, even though he probably shouldnt be rewarded for simply doing his job, as he should have done in the first place. The other members of the Idaho delegation should absolutely be booted out of their latest actions. They are corrupt politicians who clearly do not have Idahos, nor Americas, best interests in mind.
Jack Wood: Actually, Obama ran as Santa Claus. He eked out a three point win. The reason that the House is Republican today can be traced back to anger over Obamacare in the historic 2010 election, when the Democrats lost 70 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate, the largest swing in the prior 90 years. I would bet that Simpson gets a strong challenger from the right and the rest of Idahos congressional delegation will breeze to re-election.
Chuck Davis: Jack Wood, you righties spun and distorted Obamacare well prior to the 2010 election and not so well since then. Twenty-nine Republican house seats are vulnerable as we approach 2014 and Speaker Pelosi is ready.
Chad Estes: Im grateful for my Republican Congressman (Simpson) tonight. I expect him to have political leanings and opinions, but I need him to put the people in our district first. He just voted on an unpopular bill, in terms of Idahos red nature, but tonight he earned my respect and my vote next time around.
Fred Stanfield: 32 billion dollars to fight ACA is what the GOP needed for a futile effort and you would vote for anyone who helped spend that?
Robert Crossfield: Im not really, really impressed. ... After exhausting every other option, Simpson did the right thing.. Meanwhile he was a member of the dip-wads who did the damage.
Daryl Wilson: Unlike Crapo, Risch, and the ever-reckless, limelight-seeking Labrador, Mike Simpson has my respect and gratitude for steering the nation away from economic disaster. Kudos to you, sir. You put your constituents first.
Ilana Rubel: Glad Mike Simpson proved to be a grown-up in the end. The rest of our delegation should be thrown out of office. They just cost us $24 billion and 0.6 percent of the GDP in growth with this inane shutdown. House Republicans are currently the No. 1 threat to economic recovery.
Apollos Uhmedeyah: Some people would prefer that the whole world be in the economic toilet of a default just so they can say theyve beaten Obama. But Obama is wealthy; he wouldnt suffer at all. Its millions of ordinary Americans, including some of Idahos loudest tea party shills, including countless people from other nations, who would have suffered grievously from the disaster of a default. Such a callous and reckless disregard for the welfare of the nation deserves scorn and censure. You have mine.
Kauri Jerzy: You hire four people to move rocks from one side of the river to the other. Three of them work to tear down a bridge that crosses the river. The other moves one rock to the edge of the river. Lets not get too excited about the actions of one that doesnt join in on destroying the bridge.
Scott Bennett: The only one not bought and paid for by the tea party and the LDS Richy Rich.
Brian Rich: Its funny to me that Risch and other like-minded Republicans continue to blame Obama and the Democrats for their own actions. It was your choice to withhold support for funding the government. No one forced you to shut down the government and cost the economy billions in lost economic activity. For the party claiming to be all about personal responsibility, they sure are becoming quite good at shifting the blame.
Marti Bridges: Time for both of Idahos senators along with Raul Labrador to be dismissed from their jobs in the next election. They have done no one in Idaho a favor through their grandstanding, except cost the state a lot of money and put thousands of peoples lives and jobs at risk because of blindly following tea party anarchists. How pathetic. I hope the electorate sees them for what they are ... backbiting, spineless, clueless politicians only interested in sitting in a seat and doing nothing.
Shellie Daniel: Not that impressive. He should have been a leader and step out to speak to Idahoans why voting for this nonsense hurts them and hurts our country. That would have been much more impressive and much more meaningful than simply making a common-sense vote.
Robert Ehlert is the Statesmans editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.