Irrelevance: Dana’s Lovin’ It!


Dana Rohrabacher

From Tuesday’s New York Times:

“Barney has been very fair,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California and one of the most conservative members of the House. “I think that I have been treated more fairly … since the Democrats have become the majority than I was treated by my own leadership.”

Mr. Frank politely interjected, “I know the gentleman joins me in looking forward to continued years of such treatment.”

Now, it’s nice that Dana and Barney get along, and most Americans are glad that the Republicans are in the minority in Congress. But, what’s up with the Republican leadership treating Dana so “unfairly” when they were in the majority? And how do Republicans voters feel about a Congressman who (unlike the hordes of GOPers who are retiring this year because they can’t stand being in the minority) is so content to be even less powerful than he was during the decades when he was rated the “third least effective Congressperson in California?”

A knowledgeable Republican friend (who declines to be named) writes to me, “Perhaps you should be asking, how did he become such an ineffective Congressman that his own Party has shunned him over the years? …

“Part of what every Congress member brings is his life experience, the sum of his jobs, his connections to the district, his professional experience. Dana was curiously bereft of stuff like that. He’d been a dope-smoking slacker and party boy, buttboy of rich “libertarian” crackpots, a stringer for City News Service, a campaign worker for Reagan’s two presidential campaigns, a third-string writer of drop-by comments in the White House…

“Most Congressmen, when they’re elected, go through an intense period of training conducted by the party and the congress about how to work effectively in Congress. Rohrabacher eschewed actual work like this and instead went to play dress-up in the mountains of Afghanistan.

“So with no professional experience, no work ethic, and having skipped his training, where did Rohrabacher end up? Not on any powerful or significant committees, but instead shuffled off to the subcommittees where he could do less damage.”

And his two-decade tenure in Congress has shown a marked juvenile streak: Playing at rogue foreign policy with results ranging from unnoticeable (Laos, Angola) to disastrous and tragic (Afghanistan, the Mariana Islands) under the slogan “Fighting For Freedom While Having Fun!” Endless impractical outer-space projects that don’t pan out (In the mid-90’s he assembled a group of scientists and told them he wanted them to build “a death-star to stop alien invasions and missiles,” and if they couldn’t do that then “don’t waste his time.”) His periodic goofy forays into the public limelight to blame global warming on “dinosaur flatulence” and wish death and suffering on the families of torture critics. No surprise he has been shunned by fellow Republicans all these years and accomplished no major legislation. And it sort of makes sense that he feels perfectly comfortable diverting himself in the smaller playpen of minority status where his opportunities to cause harm are more limited.

But voters in the 46th don’t have to settle for an overgrown little boy Congressman for another two years. First, Republicans have the opportunity to vote in the June 3 primary for Ron St. John, a serious and idealistic Republican property-rights attorney who bridles at the divisive immigrant-bashing of the Orange County GOP – Art and I will be interviewing him tomorrow for this blog.

And then of course in November we can all unite and pick a fiscal conservative with a track history of working across party lines to solve real problems that affect us all, of building coalitions to protect the environment, a world-renowned expert on global warming, peak oil and energy policy, who has signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq… you know who I’m talking about, now sing along:

I got a crush on Debbie Cook, you know she’ll make history.
Getting Debbie into Congress is a matter of urgency.
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Congressperson
that represents you and me?
Why don’t you help us send Debbie Cook to Washington DC?

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.