Last week, I experienced one of the most frustrating assignments in my twenty-nine years as a reporter with HUMAN EVENTS. Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) needs 22 more signers on a discharge petition to get his Broadcasters Fairness Act on the House floor for a vote. I decided to call some of the “Blue Dog” (conservative) Democrats in the House to see if any would help Pence’s measure to ban revival of the Fairness Doctrine (the communications policy ended in 1987 that would require radio stations to present varied political views and discourage small broadcasters from running Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other conservative commentators.)
But I found myself disappointed. Democratic Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.) and Jason Altmire (Pennsylvania) — both considered centrist Democrats — never responded to my query. The newest Democrats, Travis Childers (Miss.) and Don Cazayoux (La.), both won nationally-watched special elections for the House in previously Republican districts earlier this year. Both ran as pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-tax candidates who were only vaguely aware of Barack Obama. Neither will sign onto bringing Pence’s measure to the House floor. At least, they won’t say that they will. Spokesmen to both told me they would get back with an answer but didn’t do so. Freshman Rep. Heath Schuler (D.-N.C.) showed great courage when he played professional football for the Washington Redskins, but that courage wasn’t apparent last week. He never called back on the Pence measure, either.
All told, there isn’t a single Democrat in the House who has signed the discharge petition so far. The bill would pass the House easily, if only it could be wrested from Pelosi’s grip.
“There isn’t any independence on the Democratic side of the aisle,” Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R.-Minn.) told me from the House floor yesterday. “It’s amazing that so many men are afraid of Nancy Pelosi. But that’s what it is — Democrats say they are so committed to the First Amendment but they won’t pass a measure to ensure freedom of speech because they are so afraid of her.”
Bachmann told me she would seek out Rep. Dan Boren (D.-Okla.), self-styled conservative Democrat who won’t endorse Obama for President. She tried to get him on the House floor yesterday to ask why he had not signed the discharge petition, but was told Boren had left for Oklahoma. “Rep;. Bachmann will try to get him next week and get back to you,” her spokeswoman promised.