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Private Eye

Jim Matheson: Coward

Jim Matheson may lack a spine, but he makes up for it with a health plan that you may never have.

By John Saltas
Posted // March 24,2010 -

Utah’s missing congressman, Jim Matheson, came out of his hole on March 21 just long enough to vote against his party’s health-care plan. That’s good news, considering some Utahns thought Matheson had died while sucking on oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill with his GOP and lobbyist cronies back in 2008. The bad news is that while out in the sunshine, he cast a shadow. Upon seeing his shadow, Mr. Matheson did what comes most naturally to him—he ran back into his hole, where he will hide until Election Day, signaling that Utah Democrats living in his district can expect at least another eight months of Republican winter.

The historic national health-care plan President Obama signed into law March 23 was opposed by Jim Matheson, one of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who as often as not vote with their Republican counterparts. They are said to be independent thinkers who vote their conscience, are fiscally conservative and think the Democratic Party leadership is too liberal. Those Blue Dogs should be given the benefit of the doubt, don’t you think?

As when Jim Matheson voted to send our troops to Iraq: There was nothing political about that at all, right? His vote was obviously independently derived from good conscience, and he was convinced going to war would bear little financial risk. Neither could his pro-war vote be construed as a liberal vote, and as long as he is not viewed as a liberal, he can win in his district until, well, forever—so why should he come out of his hole?

Because as long as he doesn’t, he will be regarded as a coward. Nobody likes a coward; neither the left nor the right, the moral nor unjust, Democrats nor Republicans nor Independents. And Jim Matheson is a coward. Not that we didn’t know that already. Somewhere in our past, this newspaper said something “mean” about him, and he hasn’t spoken to any of our reporters for years. It was probably me. I don’t mind at all saying mean things about Jim Matheson. I’ve voted for him and supported him with time and resources, so I figure I’ve paid for the privilege.

I haven’t voted for Matheson in several elections, having lost faith in him a long time ago. I also feel a goodly amount of guilt for helping him get elected in the first place, because once you get these guys into office, you can’t get them out. They’re worse than grass stains on a wedding dress. Judging from online comments, phone messages, and the guys speaking through the mist in the Sports Mall steam room, Matheson could be going down. It’s not simply because Matheson voted against the health-care plan. It’s how he did it. A growing number of Utah Democrats have had enough of his perpetual legislative legerdemain.

It would be one thing if people believed Matheson had voted his “conscience” and “independently” decided this legislation is so imperfect as to merit his “no” vote. He wouldn’t have supported Lincoln’s “imperfect” Civil War plan, either. America is either willing to value the well being of all of its citizens, or it is not. Matheson has no plan. He offers nothing as a counter. Constituents who try talking to him are directed to an e-mail address. That’s what passes for public service in this sad era of American politics.

Tell you what—right now, I’d trade Republican Jason Chaffetz straight up for Jim Matheson. I’d pay to see Matheson squirm around the bloodsuckers of the far Republican right who comprise Chaffetz’s congressional district. I’d bet his “independence” and “conscience”—two words dear to most Democrats, which have been used deceptively against them by Matheson—would disappear from his vocabulary faster than a dollar bill on the Capitol steps.?

It’s not enough that Matheson voted no on health care. His vote signals his willingness to play along with the dangerous rhetoric coming from the mouths of many Republican legislators and their supporters on the far right. That is the company he has chosen and must be judged by—the men and women who lied us into Iraq, who lied about death panels, who call their fellow Americans socialists (while accepting other forms of social services), who use the word “nigger,” who call Nancy Pelosi a “bitch” even though they’ve never met her, who think Harry Reid is a communist, who drape themselves in the flag but don’t like paying for what it represents, who want our president to fail, who hide behind the Bible while sinning wildly, who favor corporate America over the well-being of their next-door neighbors.

The great health-care debate was a political partisan show. How can it be possible, really, that not even one Republican House member voted for this bill? Not one? This was just a grand stage to set up elections this coming November—a pig in a poke, a way to get on public record, a position that can be used against a political opponent. That’s just fine with me. Matheson voted no. I’ll vote against Matheson. Again.

It’s not like Utah’s Democrats have a voice anyway—the worst-gerrymandered districts in the country ensure that. But, that only adds to the pain, because Salt Lake County alone is home to tens of thousands of Democrats who effectively have no political voice. Add in Summit and Grand counties, which also sided with Obama in the last election. Matheson could have earned his Democratic stripes by standing up for those fellow citizens statewide. He could have voted on principle, not conscience. That would have been a bold move, a leader’s move. Jim Matheson needn’t worry about being spineless—that’s covered in his federal-employee health-care plan, the likes of which you’ll never see.

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Post a comment
Posted // July 27,2010 at 13:34

Progressives just want the goverment to hold their hand because they lack disipline. They are the bane of this country and must be stopped! Also Barack Obama is a pink-o-commie.


Posted // April 2,2010 at 14:23

Saltas, you are absolutely right. You said it all, except for one word: Racist. Matheson is a racist pig. Imagine, a Democrat in next door Utah not going to the historic party convention in Denver where the first black man was nominated as his party's presidential candidate! I voted for Matheson the first time he ran. Never again. Never. He is a bigot, liar, coward, racist. I think his father, long buried, upchucks daily seeing his son cater to those who hate this country. Matheson is not a Democrat. He is not blue-dog. He is yellow-dog, a pure coward, a pure racist, a pure liar.


Posted // March 30,2010 at 12:23

Could it be that NOT ONE REPUBLICAN voted for this Nationalized Healthcare Bill because it is a wholly liberal piece of legislation offensive to all conservatives?

Could it be that Jim Matheson's worst offense was not voting NO, but in not standing up on the House Floor and chastising his fellow democrats for ramming through a bill in a purely partisan manner that is unsupported by a single republican and 70% of the citizens of the country - a bill (law now) that will divide us and bankrupt us and will require near herculean effort to undo.

Which efforts to undo will necessarily be undertaken in the same horrible partisan process under-which is was passed in the first place - this time requiring that republicans (or at least conservatives) have a majority in both houses and a president who will not veto legislation that repeals it.

Here's my idea - if sweeping legislation that establishes government control over a huge portion of our economy does not receive support from a sizable majority of both legislators and citizens, then congress ought to work much harder to come up with something that does. They certainly get paid well enough and claim to be smart enough to do that.

And failing that - don't do a damned thing. We'd all be better off if you stayed home and played with your children and grandchildren.


Posted // March 30,2010 at 14:03 - Rob, spoken like a true Utah Republican. Bravo! In the face of rising healthcare premiums and insurance companies spending $1 million/day of that premium money to defeat the reform bill, you suggest that Washington do nothing. Republicans just spent the past 10 years in power and doing nothing. How much more "nothing" can you tolerate? This is the part where you say something like,"It would be better to do nothing than to do this!" (don't forget the manufactured drama and righteousness).


Posted // March 27,2010 at 08:46

I went to the republican caucus,(biggest cluster f*** i have ever seen, the puppet talking into the microphone was a character off a sitcom, minimum of 45 minutes behind, a group of 2500 or so people and no organization to get them registerd and where they belong, just a bunch of sheep wanting to be led, most following someone that has no clue as to where they are going, some probably didnt know they were in the lead) was elected chairman of my delegation, we voted in SENSIBLE people with sensible beliefs I believe we have a better chance with a liberal republican than Jim.

Gary Johnson for Prez 2012


Posted // March 26,2010 at 22:36

Sounds like you lefties are just as mad at Jim Matheson as we righties at Bob Bennett.

You want to know why we righties are so up in arms about Obamacare? The mandate - pure and simple. We don't believe it's right to force all Americans to buy health insurance. The insurance companies will have no incentive to engage in competitive pricing like they do with auto insurance, because Congress and Obama just handed them a captive constituency; namely, the whole freaking country. A recent Dan Jones poll reported on KSL shows that the mandate was the most objectionable part of the bill.

Get rid of the mandate, and we could reach an agreement on health insurance more quickly and with less rancour.


Posted // March 29,2010 at 11:18 - Funny that, because I'm sure a KSL poll would show that most of those polled would support Mitt Romney, the bimbo governor who had the SAME MANDATE in Massachusetts for his RomneyCare, for President in 2012. Now, of course, this chicken hawk flip-flopper is trying as hard as he can to distance himself from that untidy little factoid.


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