Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Praise of Henry Brown

The Rovian politics of Representative Henry Brown (R), SC-01, are similar to the Praises of Folly - taking joy in one's self deception, madness, and ridicule the masses who you believe to be nothing more than chattel

And guess what, no one's buying it. The State Newspaper had this scathing editorial today rebuking Brown:

SOMETIMES YOU almost have to laugh at what politicians think they can get away with.

Take the recent case of U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, who filed legislation earlier this year to try to force taxpayers to subsidize 50 ritzy new houses that Kiawah Development Partners plans to build on a stretch of fragile, federally protected beachfront.

Mr. Brown insisted he was just promoting “economic development” at the bidding of the Kiawah Island Town Council, which was salivating so much over the prospect of additional property taxes that it couldn’t care less how much it would cost taxpayers across the country to sell the developers cut-rate federal flood insurance, and possibly even to dump more sand on the ecologically sensitive barrier island.

The developers said it was unfair not to make taxpayers subsidize their development, since we subsidize everybody else’s beachfront development — which conveniently misses the point that we shouldn’t be providing cut-rate insurance to begin with, much less renourishing private property.

But private entities don’t have the same obligation to serve the public interest as do public officials, so we’ll focus on Mr. Brown. After The Post and Courier exposed his attempt to remove about 150 acres from the federal Coastal Barrier Resources System — undeveloped beachfront land that the Congress sought to protect not by barring construction, but simply by not spending federal funds on the property — his office was flooded with outraged voters. So he backed down, saying “our constituents spoke, and we listened.”

This might have been the end of this story if not for the congressman’s decision to let loose campaign spokesman Rod Shealy. Mr. Shealy blamed Democratic challenger Linda Ketner, charging in an e-mail to the newspaper that “the recent media controversy on this matter was nothing more than negative politics-as-usual — weeks before an election — orchestrated by Ms. Ketner’s campaign in a deliberate attempt to damage the congressman’s outstanding reputation.”

Are you laughing yet? Not only is there no acknowledgment (by the campaign or the congressman) that there was anything wrong with this outrageous proposal, but now Mr. Brown is somehow a victim.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Ms. Ketner did “orchestrate” this scandalette (which she denies). If so, it means the election system worked the way it’s designed to, by forcing an elected official to listen to his constituents.

Elected officials shouldn’t back down from principled positions, no matter what constituents think; they should be willing to be voted out of office if the voters disagree with them. But if there’s one thing the Kiawah Island giveaway was not, it’s principled. If the congressman had been acting on some deeply held principle, he would have proposed removing all beachfront property from the protected list, forcing taxpayers to pay for everybody’s oceanfront development, not just one little patch of land that’s owned by a handful of his wealthy constituents.

As for the accusation that an opponent’s alleged politicking was “a deliberate attempt to damage the congressman’s outstanding reputation,” that’s just silly. Why would anyone bother, when Mr. Brown has done such a fine job of that all by himself?

Here's hoping Linda Ketner, who was kind enough to give us an exclusive interview, kicks his butt.

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