A Tale of the NY 20th: Some People Have It and Some Don't

In a recent interview with Albany’s Times Union newspaper (http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Congressman-Scott-Murphy-598287.php), Rep, Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls) talked about things his constituents might not know about him, among them that “Matt Damon lived in . . . [his] . . . dorm in college at Harvard University.”

This is an ideal metaphor for his race in New York’s 20th Congressional District against Chris Gibson, the Republican candidate and a retired Army Colonel.  Where Rep. Murphy knew someone slightly who achieved fame playing an Army paratrooper serving in combat during D-Day, Chris Gibson and his men achieved victory being Army paratroopers in combat in Iraq.   

Some people have it . . . and some people . . . don’t.

But that “something” does not have to be physical courage.  It can be moral courage as well.

Rep. Murphy portrays himself as a “fiscal conservative,” yet he voted for things like Cap and Trade that were far from fiscally conservative.  He even “voted for  . . . [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA” a/k/a “ObamaCare”) . . .  after voting against it.” 

As of the end of July, Rep. Murphy at long last sought (unsuccessfully http://adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/514608.html?nav=5017) to amend the Bill to undo some of the damage this legislation does to small businesses by repealing onerous IRS reporting requirements.   One wonders, if he had this concern and if he were a “fiscal conservative,” why he did not simply continue to vote against a bill he initially did not support?

One especially wonders this based on comments Rep. Murphy made at a Town Hall in Valatie, N.Y. on August 8, 2009.  He talked convincingly about problems his own family was having with the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (“FEHBP”).  His comment implied that there was a lack of administrative support in FEHBP and that participants and beneficiaries were often left in limbo. His comment implied that there was not, as with good employer-based plans, someone to advocate for the patient (and, by extension, the doctor or institutional provider), something that is commonly perceived about FEHBP.  Given this, Rep. Murphy’s eventual about-face to vote for PPACA, which will likely force people from employment-based plans into the Exchanges, which (like FEHBP) lack a mechanism to advocate for patients and providers, was (and is) stunningly disappointing.

Does Rep. Murphy, this “fiscal conservative,” fear Speaker Pelosi so much that he disregarded his own experience and his constituents’ monolithic opposition to PPACA to vote in favor of this  Bill, which he is now unsuccessfully trying to amend?  Did he think his campaign coffers would swell if he put aside his constituents’ strong and legitimate concerns about PPACA?

If he did, it was all for naught. 

In the second quarter of the campaign, Gibson, a retired career Soldier, who is not independently wealthy and who is in his first political campaign, significantly outperformed Murphy in fund raising.  Gibson’s campaign has also outperformed Murphy’s in collecting petitions.  Even the New York Times rates the race as a “toss up.” ( http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/house/new-york/20)  The handwriting is on the wall for Rep. Murphy’s political career.

In his play Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare wrote:

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but  once.

In the context of the play, the line concerns physical courage and actual death, but it also applies to moral courage.  In the less than three months remaining before November 2d, Rep. Murphy will face many “deaths” before what will likely be the death of his political aspirations (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/08/town_hall_in_upstate_ny_locals.html).  On the cold morning of November 3d, will Scott Murphy wish for the chance he squandered to stand with his constituents against Speaker Pelosi, where he knew them to be right?

Somehow I doubt Chris Gibson, who if elected will not take his Army pension (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6E5O7ce2mw&feature=player_embedded) and who is campaigning as an advocate for term limits (http://poststar.com/news/local/article_5de8e9d4-9fd4-11df-98d5-001cc4c002e0.html), will have many regrets, or many moments where he will be tempted to put his own passing political advantage ahead of his constituents.

Some people have it . . . and some people . . . don’t.

Gibson has it (or them): convictions.