The House was debating a bill last night that would provide up to $7.4 billion in health care aid to rescue and recovery workers who have faced health problems since their work in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The bill ultimately failed 255-159, and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was not happy about it. Not one bit.
In a rant that lasted for almost two minutes, a hopping mad Weiner railed against “cowardly” Republicans who claimed they were voting against the bill because of “procedure.” Weiner spat: “It’s Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes.”
What I like about Weiner is that he reacts publicly with the range of emotions that someone truly engaged in politics should react with. Politics can be maddening, stultifying, unjust, absurd, and crazy-making. That’s why a lot of people hate politics, even people ostensibly in politics. But if you’re going to really do politics, if you’re going to engage on the battlefield, you have to grapple with all the maddening things that go along with it in order to get done what you actually want done.
Too many progressives seems to want to sit on the sidelines until someone, a Marquess of Queensberry, comes along and changes the rules of the game to make it more civilized. What I like about Weiner, or at least what I see of him in public, is that he’s in the game. He doesn’t hold himself above it or outside of it. He’s in there. He’s fighting.
A good lesson for Democrats: If you’re actually in there fighting, you don’t have to worry about “projecting” to voters that you’re a fighter.