Friday, July 29, 2005

Tell Us, Mr. Hastert

For the past few days Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo has been following the developments of the CAFTA vote that never was, that is, Charles Taylor's "No" vote that mysteriously evaporated into thin air on the night CAFTA was passed. As the story developed it began to sound more and more like some kind of Diebold conspiracy, then as evidence evolved, it began to appear that maybe Taylor was making things up to cover his ass, after being pressured to vote by his Reupblican cronies to vote for a bill much hated in his devastated district. Certainly this story in this morning's NYTimes does nothing to explain or clarify the issue. In a brief mention on the second page, it states:

"One of the strangest votes was by Representative Charles H. Taylor, Republican of North Carolina, who had vowed to vote against the pact because of his concerns for textile workers.
But as the minutes ticked by, Mr. Taylor was one of only two members recorded as not voting. By not voting, he gave Republicans a two-vote victory rather than a one-vote margin.
But on Thursday, Mr. Taylor insisted that there had been an error in the electronic voting system and that he had indeed voted against the measure.
"I voted NO," Mr. Taylor announced in a terse statement on Thursday, saying the House clerk's written log showed his vote and that he would seek to have the vote registered as a "no."
Democrats, who have already lined up a potent challenger to Mr. Taylor for the next election, accused him of trying to have it both ways.
"He seemed to find time to vote for procedural motions and legislation that had nothing to do with North Carolina," said Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "but he couldn't seem to figure out how to squeeze in the time to vote against a trade deal that could cost North Carolina thousands of jobs.""
I don't know whether some dirty deal went down here or not. It's telling that it seems just as likely that some voting fraud may have occurred as that Taylor is blowing a smoke screen to look good for his constituents--this is the level of trust and honesty the Republicans have established over the last 5 years. We all seen the results of voter intimidation and worse, both in and out of the hallowed halls, blah, blah. But this is what I unexpectedly found to be the part of the Times story that made me most angry:

"It was just before midnight on Wednesday when Representative Robin Hayes capitulated.
Mr. Hayes, a Republican whose district in North Carolina has lost thousands of textile jobs in the last four years, had defied President Bush and House Republican leaders by voting against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or Cafta.
But the House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, told him they needed his vote anyway. If he switched from "nay" to "aye," Mr. Hayes recounted, Mr. Hastert promised to push for whatever steps he felt were necessary to restrict imports of Chinese clothing, which has been flooding into the United States in recent months...
The restrictions Mr. Hastert promised could come soon. Within the next 10 days, the Bush administration is expected to rule on whether to impose import quotas on Chinese sweaters, wool trousers, bras and other goods.
Mr. Hastert "said to me, 'If you vote with me, we'll do everything we need to do in your district to help with jobs,'" Mr. Hayes recalled"
So, Mr. Hastert, can you explain to me why it would be that you wouldn't do everything you could to help Americans whose livelihoods have been devastated? Why would you use peoples' lives as ransom to get your political knob polished? And if you don't care about American lives and Americans in need, why are you holding office?

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