Email #231: “partisan rhetoric”?

After receiving an outpouring of bipartisan praise and condolences after being diagnosed with brain cancer last week, Senator McCain said yesterday on the Senate floor: “What have we to lose by trying to work together to find solutions? We keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. We are getting nothing done, my friends, we are getting nothing done.”

You also wrote to me recently about “the need for elected leaders to put the interests of the country ahead of politics,” assuring me that you strongly agree “that Congress must rise above the partisan rhetoric that threatens to debilitate us and do what is right for the country in these trying times.”

While I appreciate your bipartisan rhetoric, it seems to be only that: talk. I looked up your rating by the Lugar Center, a non-profit organization led by former Republican Senator Richard Lugar and “committed to thoughtful analysis and civil dialogue that facilitate bipartisan governance.” They give you a bipartisan rating of 37%.

While that is better than Senator Bernie Sanders’ 3% or your Republican colleague Rep. Steve King’s 13%, it is far below the Senate’s top four most bipartisan members: Republican Senator Collins (100%), Democratic Senator Donnelly (91%), Republican Senator Grassley (76%), and Democratic Senator Manchin (76%). Your score is also far below the House’s top four most bipartisan members: Republican Rep. Pete King (91%), Democratic Rep. Simena (90%), Democratic Rep. Waltz (85%), and Republican Rep. Donovan (81%).

Appropriately those top eight bipartisan members of Congress divide equally between Republicans and Democrats. They are rising above partisan rhetoric by rising above partisan action. They are doing what you say needs to be done and actually putting the needs of the country ahead of politics.

Your fellow Virginians, Democratic Senators Warner and Kaine, both scored better too. Warner, who is co-chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, received a 64%, and even Kaine scored 44%. How can you be more partisan than the Democrats’ nominee for Vice President?

Unlike the “partisan rhetoric” you claim to oppose, your partisan actions aren’t merely a threat to our country. Your hypocrisy is actively debilitating us.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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