Thursday, October 28, 2004
Boucher's just a bench warmer
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Clements, of Narrows, is a retired Navy chaplain.
The Roanoke Times editorial page wants the residents of the 9th District to let Rick Boucher "keep taking care of business" and likens him to a baseball player who helps his team win. On both counts, The Times is (as usual) wrong. Let me explain why.
If by "taking care of business" you mean bringing home the bacon to Southwest Virginia, Boucher does OK - at least in getting his name on things. But read his 23-page annual report (on his Web site), and you see certain phrases repeated over and over again concerning activities in the district that he highlights, such as: "At my urging," or "At my request," or "I participated." Seldom, if ever, do you see "I sponsored." In fact, a search of the Thomas site on congressional activities brings up Boucher's name 50 times as a co-sponsor of legislation but none as a sponsor.
As to being an asset to his own team (the Democratic Caucus in the House), check out its Web site. Even though there are only 16 Democrats who will probably return next year who have been there longer than Boucher (which means everyone else is junior to him), Boucher's name cannot be found anywhere on the leadership page.
He's not even active in leadership of any of the specialized Democratic caucuses. He sits on two committees - Commerce and Judiciary. You'd think with his seniority he would at least be on one of the powerful subcommittees, like Commerce's Health or Oversight and Investigations, or on Judiciary's Terrorism and Homeland Security. But no - he serves as ranking minority member on the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee.
And on the two subcommittees that he speaks of publicly the most concerning the Internet - one on Commerce and one on Judiciary - he is outranked on both by members junior to him. Going back to The Times' baseball analogy, he looks more like an over-the-hill veteran who has a long-term contract but spends most of his time on the bench.
What Boucher has been able to do for the district could be done equally well - if not better - by a member of the majority Republican caucus. Even as a freshman, a raw rookie if you will, we have a chance for stronger representation and more ability to "take care of business" with Kevin Triplett.
Look at the record of some of the other rookie Republicans from Virginia. Randy Forbes serves on Armed Services; Eric Cantor on Ways and Means; Jo Ann Davis on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (and she has sponsored, not just co-sponsored, 23 bills).
Common sense (a gift frequently lacking on the Times' editorial page) would tell you that a freshman Republican like Triplett would better serve the 9th District than re-election of a worn-out bench warmer like Boucher. Then perhaps The Times won't have to explain that the jobs Boucher has helped bring to the district are "not always well-paying jobs." It can report that Triplett has been the best thing to happen to the Fightin' Ninth in 22 years.