Idaho Political Commentary

WestViews: Labrador should jump tea party ship

The tea party’s disease is terminal. Rep. Raul Labrador had better jump ship and join the good guys before he becomes another casualty.

And, hopefully, leadership in the Legislature is paying attention, too.

For the second time in as many months, 212 House Republicans joined Democrats March 26 and passed a sweeping overhaul of Medicare. It was needed policy that would assure patients get the care they need and doctors actually get paid.

But, as is his way, Labrador joined 32 other right-wing Republicans and voted against real governance. It’s an especially curious vote because, included in the bill, was millions for rural schools. Labrador slapped students throughout the 1st Congressional District in the face.

It’s about the debt, staffers said. Bullocks. It’s about protecting his brand, one he’s parleyed into regular appearances on the networks’ national Sunday talk shows. House Republicans have had enough with the radicals. They realize that, with 2016 elections over the horizon, the GOP has to prove it can lead.

The rift between Labrador and establishment Republican Rep. Mike Simpson has for years festered just below the surface. Anyone in the know was keenly aware. But the pair feigned solidarity when in the public eye.

But, last month, Simpson carried legislation that avoided a partial government shutdown. He lead the revolt against the tiny, fringe faction that demanded outsized domination. That was real leadership. And it infuriated Labrador, who penned an op-ed in the Times-News blasting his senior colleague. Simpson fired back, rightly arguing that anarchy — our word — isn’t governance.

The Labrador/Simpson schism is out there for all to see now. It’s a symptom of a much larger phenomenon. Centrist Republicans are engaging Democrats to get things done. It’s a potential death knell for the frothing fringe that’s made hay with fear-mongering and destructive dissent.