Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Good Shepherd is Not a Demagogue

When deciding who will represent us in government it would be useful to contrast each candidate with the character of a good shepherd. The good shepherd would risk his own life to defend his flock from thieves and predators while resisting the impulse to tell scary stories to the vulnerable lambs of what their life would be like without him. The good shepherd sings lullabies of comfort and safety while shouldering the burdens of responsibilty to the flock on himself. This is not to imply that the good shepherd does not prepare his sheep for hardships to come. Should the grazing become sparse, the good shepherd prepares his flock for the rugged journey to a new meadow. He comforts the new mothers to fear not for their young, because he is there to carry those that falter or grow weary. The rams are encouraged because of the steadfastness of their shepherd. When the shepherd calls them to follow, they step out in trust knowing that their shepherd will provide their needs to the utmost of his ability. The shepherd is prepared with food and water for the journey and travels with purpose seasoned by grace. These are the qualities of a good leader.

Here in District 17 we are currently represented by a demagogue rather than a good shepherd. The demagogue unnecessarily scares his flock of constituents in order to gain power. The specific target of Chet Edwards (D-TX) is veterans and he never misses an opportunity to scare them. His own campaign site is full of articles that detail his fear-mongering efforts disguised as the work of the good shepherd.

Consider this article by the Associated Press headlined:
Lawmakers Work To Fill $1 Billion Gap In Funding For VA
Previous efforts failed in wake of pressure by GOP to keep spending levels down

According to the opening lines, Chet speaks in the tone of a good shepherd protecting his flock. The article is definitely written in a manner that would make the reader believe so. The story ends well with the VA receiving $1.5 billion to cover the $1 billion shortfall, but that wasn't because of Chet's work but rather the work of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

In the previous link it was the tiny quote by Rep. Jeb Hensarling that revealed Chet's character. Chet Edwards is one of a handful of representatives serving on both the budget and appropriations committtees. Each committee has rules concerning issues that can be addressed: appropriation issues in appropriation committees and budget issues in buget committees. Bringing up an appropriation issue for the VA in a budget committee meeting was calculated to net sound bites to scare the bejeebers out of the targeted victims. Presenting the request for the VA before the Appropriations Committe of which he is the Ranking Minority leader, would have been the appropriate forum, but would not have generated the sparks necessary for enflamed rhetoric. "I was accused of making partisan attacks."

But the partisan stunt was executed not only to scare our veterans, but also to create a political embarrassment for the administration. Chet's plan involved raising taxes and increasing the budget deficit and would be totally unacceptable to Republicans who are cutting taxes to grow the economy and bring down the budget deficit. Viewed logically, Chet's actions were: a) politically oriented rather than a pragmatic service to the nation and b) a self-serving and malicious attack on the peace of mind of our veterans and those now in service.

I'm grateful to know the Good Shepherd and I hope He is your Shepherd, too. By His Grace, the Good Shepherd is a friend of mine. You, Chet Edwards, are no good shepherd.

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