Monday, February 13, 2012

Two Patrick Murphys-- Florida And Pennsylvania


There are two Patrick Murphys getting attention lately. The "new" one is a rich Republican who switched his party registration, tried to erase his contributions to Mitt Romney, George Bush and Charlie Crist with contributions to Democratic DC Establishment types Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel and is currently trying to ride into Congress (as a "Democrat") on a wave of revulsion against neo-fascist teabagger Allen West. Needless to say, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Steve Israel are greasing the way for him.

The other Patrick Murphy is a more complicated figure, the guy running for Pennsylvania's Attorney General. This Patrick Murphy beat incumbent GOP Rep Michael Fitzpatrick in 2006, served two terms as a Blue Dog Democrat (and the first Iraq War vet in Congress) and then was defeated in the Great Blue Dog Extermination of 2010 (by the same Michael Fitzpatrick). When he first ran. Murphy passed himself off as a progressive and Blue America enthusiastically supported him. But his role as a Blue Dog was... weird. Overall, he wasn't an actual reactionary or conservative like almost all the Blue Dogs, but more of the "moderate" they have persuaded a brain-dead media to call them, however inaccurately. And, more important, he took a leading role in some important progressive legislation and tried to persuade his Blue Dog brothers-- however futilely-- to support the Democratic positions. Along with Joe Sestak he took the lead role in repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell and he voted for the health care reform bill, for the Hate Crimes bill and for the Stimulus Bill (unlike so many of the Blue Dogs). And he voted against the Stupak Amendment. My biggest gripe with him is that he took an aggressive role as an advocate for the Blue Dogs politically, especially when it came to recruiting conservative Democrats to run for Congress and getting the DCCC to support them over progressives.

Sunday he was back in L.A.-- he comes here a lot-- looking for campaign contributions. I didn't go. But the invitation included an article that made me consider going: "PA Attorney General Candidate Patrick Murphy Opposes Mortgage Fraud Deal." Of course, it's easier to say you're for or against something when you don't actually hold an office where that position is meaningful. I never believed for one second that Obama would have voted against the Iraq War had he been in Congress when Bush started it, despite the fact that he claims to have opposed it when he was a state senator. His subsequent voting record once he got into the U.S. Senate has proven to me without question that he would have done the exact same thing Hillary Clinton did-- vote yes. I'm less sure that Murphy is being duplicitous when he takes a position significantly to the left of what rest of the country's attorneys general are saying about the mortgage settlement with the banksters. He says they're criminals and should be prosecuted. I agree. But is that what he would be saying if he were Pennsylvania's Attorney General now? There's no way to know. Here's his statement on it:
“While I recognize progress was made during negotiations and appreciate the work done to reach this mortgage settlement, I believe it fails to get justice for the millions of homeowners who fell victim to one of the most severe and widespread cases of fraud in American history. This settlement was our single best opportunity to recover what was stolen from the American public. Mortgage lenders stole money, stole homes and, like any other criminals, must be held fully accountable and make their victims whole. This deal falls short of that threshold, and therefore, I cannot support it.
"When I was serving in the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, NC, I prosecuted a Staff Sergeant for theft and fraud. He was convicted, and sentenced to jail time. He also had to pay back the money he had stolen. That's the way the justice system should work. When a thief is caught stealing, that thief must make his victims whole again. The same should be true for mortgage lenders. But $25 billion is not enough. It’s possibly less than a penny for every dollar lost by American homeowners. The $2,000 some homeowners are set to receive does little to help or comfort the Pennsylvania families who lost their homes. Also, one out of every four mortgages is underwater but only a small fraction of those homeowners may get help.
“The banks need to be held to the same standard as everyone else. As Attorney General, I will aggressively investigate mortgage fraud in Pennsylvania and work with law enforcement across the country to ensure that homeowners get justice for the crimes committed against them."

You decide for yourself. (Yesterday on Nicole Sandler's radio show, the one from Florida said the one from Pennsylvania is a big supporter of his.)

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