Forty years is far too long for anyone to serve in Congress, but apparently it’s just long enough for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). This fixture of the Democratic establishment – who, as blogger David Freddoso observes, just last month pumped out a long essay explaining why it was important for him to run again – announced on Thursday that he would not run for re-election this fall.
So why the sudden change of heart? Well, of course, there are those Tea Party rascals to consider, and the stubborn refusal of so many representatives to fall into lockstep with the Obama agenda. From the New York Times:
Mr. Waxman, 74, joins the growing list of House members who are calling it quits, many in disappointment over the partisanship and ineffectiveness of a Congress that may end up as the least productive in history.
???It???s been frustrating because of the extremism of Tea Party Republicans,??? Mr. Waxman said in an interview on Wednesday. ???Nothing seems to be happening.???
As the waaaaaambulance pulls up to take Rep. Waxman away, the rest of us can reflect on the debt of gratitude we owe the Tea Party for improving Congress. Bitterly partisan to the end, he couldn’t just say “I’m 74 and it’s a good time to retire.” He had to take a few shots on his way out. Let me know when those Tea Party guys muscle through a half-written trillion dollar bill on a party-line vote after working the back rooms for a couple of weeks to arrange kickbacks and carve-outs, Mr. Waxman. Then we can have a nice discussion about “extremism.”
The Times adds another reason why this might be a good time for Waxman to skeddadle, because he’s one of the geniuses who dumped ObamaCare on us without reading the bill, and it’s crashing down in flames all around him. He’s got a fairly safe seat, but maybe he didn’t want to be around for a diminished Democrat caucus to contemplate what ObamaCare cost them in the midterm elections.
These are also grim times for the global warming scam, which Waxman was big pusher of. A desperate Barack Obama squeaking climate change is too real, don’t you dare argue about it any more, keep your nasty heretical data away from me at the State of the Union address is going to end up in the history books as part of the movement’s death throes. As the Times puts it:
The sprawling bill to combat climate change that he wrote was passed by the House in 2009 but died in the Senate, and President Obama has given up on efforts to push it through. Mr. Waxman has also spent years trying to strengthen the powers of the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, but those efforts are under fire from the Republicans who control the House.
Freddoso reads some leaves that the New York Times didn’t want to see floating at the bottom of Waxman’s political tea:
The obvious takeaway here is that Democrats have no confidence in their ability to take back the House in 2014. If they did, he???d be excited about becoming chairman again of the House Energy and Commerce committee. (Waxman made his name as Oversight chairman when Bush was president, but lost interest in Oversight when Obama was elected.)
On a related note, Waxman holds a D+11 district. But Waxman still had a rough time of it last cycle ??? practically nobody noticed, but he almost lost his seat. A wealthy candidate named Bill Bloomfield (a longtime-moderate-Republican-donor-turned-unaffiliated-voter) put $7.6 of his own money into an independent bid against Waxman and held him under 54 percent in the general election. Bloomfield has actually raised $75,000 already this cycle, but he might just be paying himself back some of the loans he made his campaign.
I tend to think Waxman probably had his re-election chances fairly well sized up last month, when he was busy explaining why he absolutely was going to run again, you betcha, but maybe the gathering storm clouds of the midterm elections made him reconsider all of the variables. I have to imagine it won’t be much fun to serve as a congressional Democrats if Republicans hold the House and take the Senate in 2014. Not that I’m necessarily holding my breath for the GOP leadership to storm the battlements of history, mind you, but look: one of the biggest assets for Democrats, who are unquestionably the real obstructionists in D.C. these days, has been the ability of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to quietly assassinate every good bill that rolls out of the House. The media looks the other way and whistles while he digs a hundred shallow legislative graves on Capitol Hill, then pumps out stories about how the Republicans are a bunch of intransigent roadblocks who just say “no” to everything. It’s a sweet, sweet racket, and it’s going to end if there’s a Republican Senate Majority Leader, no matter how flexible his spine might be. The Democrats will actually have to go on the record and pay a political price for stomping on all those pro-growth jobs bills.
Fox News counts Waxman as the third big ObamaCare perpetrator to announce his retirement:
Two other Democrats involved in that process — Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. — have also announced their retirement from Congress (though Baucus is awaiting confirmation to be the next ambassador to China).
Republicans swiftly characterized Waxman’s decision as a sign of Democratic vulnerability.
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said “it’s a clear indication that House Democrats think they won’t be wielding the gavel” after the midterm elections in the fall.
“With the way ObamaCare is playing out they have a tough battle to hold … onto what they’ve got,” he said.
The Washington Post notes Waxman is “the fourth top Democrat on a House committee who has either called it quits or opted to run for another office,” and Collin Peterson (D-MN) of the House Agriculture Committee is looking a bit wobbly too. These are pretty clear signs that Democrats have given upon on retaking the House, and are increasingly worried about holding the Senate. Check out how the Post describes Waxman’s fellow high-profile retirees:
The others headed out the door are Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) — a classmate of Waxman’s in the post-Watergate election of 1974 who announced his retirement earlier this month — and Mike Michaud (D-Maine) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Michaud is running for governor, while Markey won a special election for Senate in June.
In the latter two cases, leaving the House might have had as much or more to do with the fact that they had very winnable races for higher office sitting right in front of them. It’s really Miller, Waxman and (potentially) Peterson who tell the story. All three would likely head up major House committees in a Democratic-led 114th Congress — Miller on Education, Waxman on Energy and Commerce and Peterson on Agriculture.
The post-Watergate election of 1974. Tell me again how we don’t need term limits.
Don’t worry about departing ObamaCare kingpin Max Baucus, who coined the phrase “train wreck” to describe his own Affordable Care Act handiwork. He recently said he’s “no real expert on China,” so he’s a shoe-in for the ambassadorship. Ignorance is a huge resume point in this Administration, which prides itself on knowing absolutely nothing about what it’s doing, because that makes scandal control so much easier. The big Obama donor tapped to represent the United States to Norway didn’t know anything about Norway, and that seems to be working out just fine.