Another Connecticut Republican gets the shaft from Rep. Istook: this time, eastern Connecticut's Rob Simmons.
The issue is transportation funding for Simmons' district. And I was going to say he got the pork shaft. But I quickly realized that that might give the metaphor an awkward tilt -- particularly, I would imagine, for Rep. Istook. So I thought better of it.
Back to the topic at hand ...
There is no constitutional right to appropriations pork. So, aside from tweaking folks a bit, you can't exactly claim that there's an issue of high principle here. But I am curious to know more about the nitty-gritty dynamics of what happened here (see this earlier post for details.) Is this another sign of House majority hubris? Perhaps one more telling and significant than the DeLay Rule or the Istook Amendment?
Here's what I mean. The GOP congressional majority rests on its dominance in the reddest of the red states -- particularly, in the South. But it can't survive without healthy representation in every region -- even in the Northeast, perhaps especially there, since it's there that the balance is hardest to pull off.
Back in the Gingrich era I remember often being surprised at how good Gingrich's relations were with many of the moderates. For all his bluster, he understood the importance of finding ways to help the bluer sort of Republican survive in parts of the country that were very different from the GOP's southern heartland.
I don't know the internal dynamics of the House or the GOP caucus well enough to know. And perhaps this is just an Istook story, aberrational rather than representative. But it makes me wonder if House Republicans are now feeling confident enough of their majority that they don't feel the need to cultivate or protect colleagues like these with whom, in truth, they have little in common.
The fact that Istook meted out this punishment over a disagreement about the regionally-tinged issue of funding Amtrak -- a spending priority which is rather more dear in the Northeast than in Oklahoma -- adds to my curiosity.