Pre-Emptive Excuses By the "Timid Trio" 2.0by Kyle Michaelis
Nevermind that in one of the worst Do-Nothing Congresses in history - under Republican leadership - Lee Terry and Jeff Fortenberry were amongst the worst Do-Nothing Congressmen. Foreseeing that their inadequacy and incompetence will carry-over into their next terms, they are already laying the groundwork to blame their future failure on those ever-convenient scapegoats in the Democratic Party.
The Omaha World-Herald spins on their behalf:
Get ready for life in the minority, Nebraska.
The state bucked the national trend in last week's elections, choosing Republicans in all three of its congressional districts.
Meanwhile, the wave of Democratic victories elsewhere will give control of the House of Representatives to their party for the first time since 1994.
"That clearly reduces the clout of the delegation," said John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Nebraska congressmen, who returned to the Capitol for the lame-duck session that began Monday, already suffered from low visibility, coming from a less-populated Plains state and holding little seniority.
When the new Congress organizes under Democratic leadership in January, they also face the challenge of being on the short end of the gavel.
"This will be a new experience," said Rep. Lee Terry, Nebraska's senior House member. "There's no doubt it'll be harder."
Terry, re-elected to a fifth term from the 2nd Congressional District, said he was happy to have survived "the worst Republican atmosphere since Watergate," but said he felt "depressed" at the prospect of moving to the minority.
The delegation is getting greener, too, with the addition of newcomer Adrian Smith in the 3rd District. Tom Osborne is retiring from that seat after three terms, taking with him the celebrity factor he held from his days as a college football coach.
Jeff Fortenberry will return to represent the 1st District, but it's just his second term.
Next year will be the first time any of the Nebraska House members have served in the minority. All three said that bipartisanship and building relationships will be even more important. They hope recent talk from Democrats and the White House about working together will prove true....
One silver lining is that the departure of some veteran Republicans clears the way for the Nebraskans to advance in seniority. One of Terry's goals has been to climb the House Energy and Commerce Committee ladder. The defeat of Rep. Charles Bass, R-N.H., will bump him up a spot.
It's great that Lee Terry can find something to celebrate in his fellow Republican's defeat, but a time will come when Nebraska voters, too, will expect something more than rubber-stamping and the party-line from their supposed representatives. At that point, Terry, Fortenberry, and Smith had better have something more to show for themselves than cheap excuses.
In politics as in fashion, trends have always arrived rather late in Nebraska. Even in the fabled Republican take-over of 1994, Nebraska re-elected not only Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey but also Ben Nelson as Governor with over 70% of the vote. It took a while longer for the GOPs domination to set in. It may take a while longer to break as well.
The newly-reconstituted "Timid Trio" of Terry, Fortenberry, and Smith would be wise to take heed of what 2006 may foretell for their own futures. If they think they've survived the worst and can coast from here on out - having fooled Nebraskans once and for all - they've got another thing coming.
They have the choice of continuing to play partisan games or of providing the independent leadership they most surely have not in their combined legislative careers. If they choose to put politics before the people of Nebraska, I have little doubt this "Democratic wave" we've seen nationally will catch-up with the "Timid Trio" and catch-on with Nebraska voters in the next election cycle.