When I covered Congress in the mid-1990s, one of my favorite characters was Steve Stockman, a former street vagrant who somehow got swept to power in the Republican Revolution of ’94.
Voters in his Texas district, realizing their mistake, swept him out two years later — but not before he distinguished himself by demanding a federal investigation of the 1948 Kinsey Report on male sexuality and by claiming that the deadly 1993 assault on the Branch Davidians was a Clinton administration conspiracy to tighten gun control.
So it was with a mix of nostalgia and delight that I came across a headline on the news Web site Talking Points Memo this week proclaiming, “GOP Rep. Threatens Impeachment If Obama Uses Executive Order on Guns.” It turns out that congressman is . . . Steve Stockman. Sixteen years and one failed run for railroad commissioner later, he’s back in the halls of Congress.
But there is a key difference in Stockman’s second act, and it says less about him than about our politics. Back then, he proved too much even for the ’94 revolutionaries; his classmates came to shun him and voters in his competitive district sent him packing. But this time, Texas has redrawn its political boundaries, and Stockman’s new seat is safe. What’s more, his views, outlandish in the House of 1995, are more at home in the House of 2013. On Tuesday night, Stockman was one of 179 House Republicans to vote against aid to Hurricane Sandy’s victims.
All these years later, Stockman can still bring the crazy. The problem is he’s now just one of many purveyors…
Apart from President Obama’s plan to “formally announce the most aggressive and expansive national gun-control agenda in generations” (I hope anyone standing near a Republican gets to wear a disposable poncho for that presser), what’s on the agenda for the day?