Republicans more prominent than the Saks congressman attended the event; guess they had no problems being a prop for what Rogers described as an Obama campaign speech. As Speaker of the House, John Boehner, R-Ohio, took his customary seat alongside the vice president last Thursday night. Alabama’s other congressional Republicans were there, as well.
But Rogers stayed home, believing he’d make a hearty statement by watching the president’s speech on television. For a five-term congressman in a safe Republican district in safe, Republican Alabama, that’s mighty daring of him.
Let’s tally up the spoils of Rogers’ decision.
The chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, Mark Kennedy, accused Rogers of committing a “campaign spectacle” — which, to us, sounds perilously close to what Rogers was accusing Obama of doing himself.
“I’m curious to know if the congressman ever traveled the same high and mighty road during the Bush administration,” Kennedy told The Birmingham News.
Rogers became the political illustration of the neighborhood child who, not getting his way on the playground, decided to stay home the next time around.
Worse still, Rogers’ stunt deprived voters of Alabama’s 3rd District representation at one of the most important speeches of Obama’s presidential career. The economy is a rocky mess; growth is too slow, recovery is too weak and unemployment is too high. It is time government — i.e., the White House — makes job growth the top domestic priority. Obama’s speech, regardless of its merits, was long overdue.
We hold no illusions that the congressman would embrace the president’s plans. Give Rogers credit for this much: He upholds the far-right GOP idea that most, if not all, of what Obama endorses is bad for this country. Remember, too, that this is the same congressman who unprofessionally referred to the president as “this ol’ boy” in published comments earlier this summer.
In case there was any doubt, Rogers’ stance hasn’t softened. In comments about the president’s stimulus package designed to improve the nation’s infrastructure, he said, “I just don’t believe him. I don’t trust him.”
That, of course, is his prerogative.
Rogers, however, should remember that he is elected to represent Alabama’s 3rd District. As such, he’s expected to fulfill certain duties. Go to bat for this area’s needs. Represent us well. Introduce legislation that, if passed into law, will enhance life and business for this part of Alabama.
And, quite frankly, show up for work.
Rogers didn’t do that, and for it the 3rd District wasn’t represented at the president’s speech. He wasn’t a prop, but he was an absent political participant. That’s a label no congressman should want.