What does the move say about Griffith? It says he is clueless, shallow, dishonest, shortsighted, untrustworthy . . . and we're just getting warmed up.
Perhaps worst of all, we suspect the move says Griffith wants to get ahead of the curve for playing the electoral race card in 2010.
In terms of politics, Griffith's switch is likely to mean virtually zero. As Media Matters reports, Griffith was already a Republican. Writes Jason Linkins at Huffington Post:
Democrats basically lost a party member who pretty reliably voted against their initiatives anyway. Griffith was a "no" vote on Lily Ledbetter, the stimulus package, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, the Affordable Health Care For America Act and financial reform legislation. On top of that, Griffith particularly fetishized having a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, which the administration plans to scrap. On his website, Griffith called the missile shield the "best stimulus," mainly "because his district contains the base for Boeing's ground-based missile defense research."
How did Griffith explain his switcheroo? First, he said there wasn't room at the Democratic table for a "pro-business, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment" congressman. Funny, I wasn't aware the Democratic party was trying to inhibit business, life, or the Second Amendment--and that such efforts had started since Griffith's election in 2008. Wrote The Huntsville Times:
(Griffith) said he could no longer be a part of a party that continues to "pursue legislation that is bad for our country ... and drives us further and further into debt."
"Unfortunately, there are those in the Democratic leadership that continue to push an agenda focused on massive new spending, tax increases, bailouts and a health care bill that is bad for our health care system," Griffith said before a living room full of reporters.
Let's see, which party was in charge when the national debt began to explode? (Can we say, "Republicans"?) Who was in charge when financial bailouts started? (Can we say, "Republicans" again?)
See what we mean by clueless? Even Griffith's hometown newspaper isn't buying his story. Opines The Huntsville Times in a piece titled "Parker Griffith's Party Switch Is About Self-Preservation, Not Convictions:"
For 18 years, Bud Cramer straddled both sides of the fence as a conservative Democrat through Republican and Democratic swings in Congress and the White House, resisting pressure to join Republican ranks. Griffith told a packed press conference Tuesday he was voted into office as an "independent conservative" congressman to represent people - not a political party.
That's news to a lot of folks who voted for him and that "D" next to his name. Or those who donated to the Democratic National Convention or helped build his $600,000 war chest.
"As the 111th Congress has progressed, I have become increasingly concerned that the bills and policies pushed by the current Democratic leadership are not good for North Alabama or America and more importantly, they do not represent my values and convictions. While I voted against health care, cap and trade and two huge spending stimulus bills, I now believe that I have to go further and stand with a party that is more in tune with my beliefs and my convictions."
If Griffith is so independent, why not disavow both parties and run as an independent? Now that's conviction.
Parker Griffith obviously is not about conviction. And even though Griffith is an oncologist, one has to wonder about his intelligence. Joining the Republican Party to help fight growing deficits? That's like joining the Oakland Raiders to fight bad football. Becoming a Republican to help protest financial bailouts? Griffith might want to conduct some research to see who initiated the bailouts. It ain't exactly ancient history; it happened in fall 2008.
Alabama blogger Matt Osborne provides an unvarnished look at the real Parker Griffith in a piece titled "Parker Griffith's Christmas Present to Alabama Democrats." Writes Osborne:
At an August town hall in Florence, Alabama, Griffith pandered to the worst elements of the crowd. From death panels to immigration hysteria, he didn't miss a single teabagger talking point.
Hefting H.R. 3200 in the air, he emphasized its dimensions. He openly advocated removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Minimizing climate change, he drew applause by denouncing Waxman-Markey. He openly ridiculed union leaders and implied that massive deficits magically appeared with the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Speaking of Obama, here's what's really ugly about Griffith's switch: It comes less than a year after our first black president took office--facing a colossal mess left by his Republican predecessor.
Our guess is Griffith thinks President Obama will face a backlash because of his efforts to deal with problems that George W. Bush either created or ignored. And we suspect that Griffith thinks the backlash will be particularly severe because Obama is black.
You've got to hand it to Alabamians. We've never been behind the curve when it comes to playing the racial-fear card. And Parker Griffith isn't about to let us start now.
Fortunately, all Alabamians aren't like Parker Griffith. In fact, outsiders probably would be surprised at how many forward-thinking folks reside in our fine state.
Some have started a Web page called "Send Parker Griffith Home." Jeremy Sherer, a Democratic candidate for Alabama state treasurer, had a thoughtful statement on his campaign Web site.
Perhaps best of all, Griffith's defection has not caused Alabama progressives to lose their sense of humor. Consider this goody from my friend David Walters:
Parker Griffith needs to see a proctologist who can treat him for "opticalrectitus," which is a malady that occurs when the optic nerve comes in contact with the rectal nerve, causing a shitty outlook on life. The problem is that there is no known cure for those who suffer from the Republican strain of this disease. Also, it is not covered in most insurance policies and is not covered in the Senate bill."