When Representative Joe Donnelly was elected to Congress in 2006, he joined the fictitious club of supposedly conservative Democrats called the "Blue Dogs." By betraying constituents with his recent embrace of Nancy Pelosi's healthcare takeover, Joe Donnelly has proven himself not a blue dog, but a lap dog.
When Donnelly conducted a town hall meeting in Kokomo last August, he heard from a host of citizens angry about the irresponsible behemoth of a bill that Congressional Democrats had put together. Despite misleading media reports coming from papers like the Kokomo Tribune that suggested the crowd was "evenly divided" on the issue, over 80% of the comments directed at Donnelly were skeptical and condemning of the Democrats' plan to interject more government into our healthcare system.
Perhaps surprised by the crowd's hostility towards turning over their freedom to him and his fellow elites in Washington, Donnelly put on his "conservative Hoosier hat" for the evening, promising his constituents he: 1. would read the entire bill before voting, 2. would not vote to add to the deficit (odd, since he had just voted in favor of Obama's pork-laden, deficit-exploding, economy-depressing "stimulus" bill), 3. preferred government stay out of healthcare, and 4. wanted to clean up Medicare first.
Call me a cynic, but I didn't believe a word of it then. Sometimes I hate being right.
This isn't to suggest that Congressman Donnelly was in an easy spot. The leaders of his party had put him in a position where he had to choose between losing the support of his party bosses like Pelosi and Obama (and thus the money they would send his way for a re-election campaign), or betraying his constituents by going back on his word. It was a test of character for Donnelly. A test he failed.
On his website, Donnelly boasts of himself that, "It has never been about Democrats or Republicans. It's about doing what is right for families here in Indiana and across the country." Yet when it mattered most, Donnelly proved those to be empty words. They are the hollow ramblings of just another Washington politician whose primary objective is preserving his own power, even if it means throwing those "families here in Indiana" under the socialized medicine bus.
Donnelly's critical vote allowed a bill to pass that is blatantly unconstitutional. Democrats, including Donnelly, have not yet been able to explain where Congress gets the authority to force Americans to purchase health insurance. This is not like auto insurance. If you choose not to drive, you don't have to purchase auto insurance. If this healthcare plan goes through, Joe and his compatriots will have left you the following options: buy it, die, or go to jail.
Thanks to Donnelly's sell-out, we are one step closer to a bill that will slash Medicare spending (section 1161), put the government in charge of approving all health insurance plans (section 224), hammer small businesses with fines for not obeying orders (section 412), cut reimbursement rates for doctors (section 1158), and cause the tax burden on middle class Americans to skyrocket.
This is why when Donnelly brags about having read the entire bill, I actually hope he is lying. Because if he did read this monstrosity and still voted for it, the degree of his lapdog status becomes even more glaring.
So how does Donnelly explain this outrageous betrayal? He doesn't. I've been waiting to ask the Congressman myself, but after setting up a monthly interview with me on my radio program two years ago, Donnelly has participated in just one, earning him the moniker "Silent Joe." He is apparently more content to talk with media outlets that aren't interested in holding him accountable for his votes.
And evidently Congressman Donnelly has adopted a new policy for interaction with his constituents...fly in and out of the district in secret appearances before anyone catches wind that he's in town. It is reminiscent of the way the president will fly into a war zone to visit the troops unexpectedly, and then leave before the enemy has a chance to gather. A word of advice to Mr. Donnelly: when you're having to make stealth appearances in the district you supposedly represent, that should tell you something about how well you're doing your job.
Then again, after reading Donnelly's response to a senior citizen who questioned his vote, this strategy of avoiding his constituents might be wise. He attempted to pacify her concerns by stating, "I [say], turn off the TV and listen to a Frank Sinatra record." And there you have it...a perfect indictment of Donnelly as a bona fide member of the inner-Washington crowd sending us peons the message: "Don't you people worry about paying attention to what I'm doing and what I'm voting in favor of...just listen to your records and let me run your life for you. Just trust me."
Silent Joe must go.