Sunday, September 10, 2006



In 2004 a friend of mine in Athens, Georgia vouched for John Barrow as someone who could beat far right incumbent Max Burns and who would be a moderately progressive voice in Congress. I contributed some money to Barrow's primary campaign and then to his general election campaign. He won the primary and my Athens friend told me it would be close but he would win the general too. (It was and he did-- 52-48%-- one of only 2 Democrats anywhere to defeat an incumbent Republican.) But in between the primary and the general I was watering my lawn late one afternoon when Barrow calls.

It wasn't just a friendly thanks-for-the-money/send-more call. Maybe he doesn't know many gay people but he wanted to run his how-to-deal-with-the-GOP-hot-button-gay-issue by me. I have to admit that I wasn't paying close attention as he blabbered on but I got the gist: he would oppose gay marriage because that's what people in the district wanted and Burns would turn the whole election into that issue. I let it slide and didn't argue with him. I was happy when he won the race.

I've been less happy about GA-12 since. Barrow has turned out to be anything but a moderately progressive voice in Congress. I mean, I guess if he were a Republican he would be considered a moderate. But his voting record, while not as bad as the other right wing Georgia Democrat, Jim Marshall, is way at the bottom of the barrel among Dems, down in the realm where corporations know they can find the votes to pass their most anti-consumer/anti-worker bills in case too many Republicans don't have the stomach to sell out their constituents again. There are around 2 dozen Democrats who tend to vote with Republicans on the big substantive issues that come before Congress. Barrow is one of them. (Others include Gene Taylor of Mississippi, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Bud Cramer of Alabama, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Ike Skelton of Missouri, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Charlie Melancon on Louisiana, just to name a few of the worst of the worst.)

Although Kerry carried the 12th CD in 2004, Barrow made a point of distancing himself from his party's presidential candidate. Ironically Kerry got 120,500 votes and Barrow got 113,000. Burns out-polled Bush. And Barrow is at it again-- no, not calling me while I'm watering my lawn; he knows better than that. He's busy undercutting Democrats and the Democratic message. His first ad claims he voted to abolish "the death tax," and to protect gun rights from... his own party. What a guy! And the brand new ad: "I'm John Barrow and when I went to Congress, I believed the most important thing I had to remember was who sent me there. That's why I stood up to leaders in my own party and opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants... I stood firm on Iraq. We can't cut and run."

GA-12 is a gerrymandered district, gerrymandered to dump lots of African-Americans in one bizarrely shaped district wigglin' and wagglin' all over the state to create a Democratic seat (and to make sure neighboring Republicans don't get any serious challenges). The Democatic Party can do better than a reactionary and a brand wrecker like Barrow. If you didn't like Lieberman, you wouldn't like Barrow, who's voting record is even worse, either. DMI rates him a "C," which is better than the "F" they award each of the Georgia Republican congressmen. But not good enough. And now that he's in power he doesn't need to go to the grassroots for campaign money. From the moment he got to Washington he put a big "for sale" sign on his ass and has been selling his votes to Big Business... almost-- that's the difference between a "C" and an "F"-- as regularly as a Republican.

Here's the new TV spot-- in case you see how pipsqueaks bash their own party to squeeze out a few extra votes from some random reactionaries.


I hadn't talked to my pal in Athens for a few months. Five minutes after I finished writing the attack (above) on his friend Barrow, the phone rang and... yep, it was him! I mean, it was 5 minutes after I wrote it, not 5 minutes after I posted it! But he's come to the same conclusion about Barrow that I had. "He's a smart, Harvard-educated attorney and on local issues, he's always right on. I tell him he sounds just like Burns now. But if he loses in November he'll think he didn't move far enough to the right." My friend in Athens has a far too pleasant and satisfying life and is far too smart to run for Congress; otherwise I'd be urging him to jump in in 2008. Meanwhile, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and the time to throw the rascals out isn't only about Republicans but also about throwing out Democrats who vote for them. It isn't enough just to elect a Democratic Congress, though I desperately want to believe that's a crucial step in the right direction; what we really need is a Congress filled with progressives and populists who have the best interests of ordinary Americans first and foremost in their minds-- like these men and women.


At 10:32 AM, Blogger Dennis said...

John Barrow has not earned the right with the people of his district to be re-elected. And many folks in his old district of Athens, Ga. are extremely disappointed in him - especially his stands on supporting the protection of the telecom industry from illegal spying on Americans and his stand to give control of the internet to the telecom/media industry.

As for some of his other political positions, his stands on Iraq aren't encouraging, either.

You don't have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Barrow is a hypocrite. He continues to call his old constituents in Athens to ask for money. He claims that even though he is no longer officially our representative, he is still representing our interests in Washington. What a bunch of BS.


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