It’s nothing new that a New York Times columnist would write about Missourians with a tone of good-natured condescension. That’s how Gail Collins approaches many topics. But did she make her points about why Missourians voted the way they did on August 3, 2010?
In today’s editorial, “Show Me Your Insiders,” Collins’s first point is that Missourians are “crazy about insiders,” despite the conventional wisdom that voters hate incumbents and career politicians. Her evidence is the huge majorities of Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan in rolling over their outsider opponents in the primary race to select candidates to replace Kit Bond. The reality is that their opponents didn’t raise enough money to mount serious campaigns.
Blunt has served as Missouri’s secretary of state and governor and has served several terms as Missouri’s 7th District representative in Congress. Carnahan’s only public office has been Missouri secretary of state, though her father was governor, her mother served her father’s term in the Senate after his death, and her brother Russ serves in Congress.
Blunt and Carnahan are insiders. Carnahan had no credible opposition. Blunt was challenged by Chuck Purgason, a veteran Missouri legislator with little money and no connections to national interests, though he was endorsed by Joe the Plumber and claimed to be a Tea Party-type.
On Proposition C, nearly three of four those voting (71% of the 23% of registered voters who turned out) expressed their rejection of the part of the federal health care law that requires the purchase of health insurance by nearly everyone, penalizing those who do not. According to Collins, Prop C is “almost certainly unconstitutional and unenforceable.”
While mandatory coverage is the logical and economic foundation of the federal health care law, the constitutionality of this provision is itself constitutionally questionable, according to federal district judge Henry Hudson’s ruling in Virginia v. Sebelius, the case testing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, overruling HHS Secretary Sebelius’s motion to dismiss the suit. Referring to the Hudson wrote:
Never before has the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause been extended this far.
A pronouncement from a federal district judge on a motion to dismiss should not be viewed as an indication of how the case will turn out, but seems to have more weight than the flippant remark of a columnist.
Collins also makes fun of Billy Long’s theme, that he was “fed up with insiders.” While I’m not sure that this theme, rather than Long’s high name recognition and personal familiarity in the most populous parts of the 7th District, carried the day for him. His opponents Gary Nodler and Jack Goodman, both state legislators, didn’t differ from Long on the issues, and were fairly unknown to voters in Springfield and in Christian County.
Whatever the height of Collins’s perch, her vision is not acute enough to truly understand how Missouri voters make their decisions. She surely doesn’t think that she understands Missourians, but she still doesn’t mind depicting us as simple folks for the entertainment of her supposedly more sophisticated audience.