WestViews: Opinions from newspapers in Idaho and the West commenting on Western issues

December 30, 2013 

POLITICIANS ARE EASY TARGETS FOR CHEERS, JEERS ’13

Lewiston Tribune

JEERS ... to Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. What a year this Idaho politician has had.

He started by voting against a must-pass bill to back away from the fiscal cliff.

At about the same time, Labrador got involved in a botched coup against House Speaker John Boehner. Roll Call listed Labrador, along with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., as the ringleaders.

When seatmate Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told the Statesman’s Dan Popkey that Labrador had torpedoed his credibility, the would-be insurgent blasted Simpson as a “bully” and “an old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C., to compromise. ... That’s how you get to a $1 trillion deficit, by just tinkering around the edges.”

CHEERS ... to Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more compelling portrait of magnanimity than that of Davis and his wife, Marion.

About a decade ago, their 23-year-old son, Cameron Wade Davis, was shot and killed during a brawl at a Boise keg party. The assailant, Vincent Craig Olsen, was convicted of manslaughter and drew a 25-year sentence.

But when it came time for Olsen’s parole hearing, the Davis family chose mercy over vengeance. Testifying at an April 9 Idaho parole commission meeting, Cameron Davis’ parents said they would not oppose release for their son’s killer.

They saw in Olsen’s parents, Craig and Lenna Olsen, some of their own pain.

“We saw their hearts ache,” Davis wrote in a statement to The Associated Press. “With time, we prayed with them. With a little more time, we prayed for their son. Our loss is real, but now there is comfort.”

CHEERS ... to former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt. Upon receiving the Idaho human rights lifetime achievement award in October, the godfather of Idaho’s human rights law chided members of his own Republican Party for their failure to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

CHEERS ... to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., hashed out the first working budget compromise in several years. For that, Roll Call correctly lists her among the few winners in an otherwise dysfunctional congressional year.

JEERS ... to Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna. The man responsible for 2012's biggest political debacle — the repeal of his heavy-handed, school overhaul bills aimed at steering tax dollars into the coffers of Luna’s cronies — was up to his old tricks.

CHEERS ... to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter. Whatever else Otter accomplished — or failed to pull off — during his seven years in office, he holds this distinction: He is the only Republican governor presiding over a Republican legislative majority to pass a state-based health insurance exchange.

Otter detests Obamacare, but his approach was sound: Having Idahoans run the exchange meant better service, lower costs and less interruption than relying on the federal government.

JEERS ... to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. By voting against everything — including the Violence Against Women Act, funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, aid to Pakistan and help for Idaho’s rural schools — Risch wound up to the right of everybody. The wonkish National Journal proclaimed Risch far and away the Senate’s most conservative member.

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