Thursday, May 03, 2007

Walden: Yes on Iraq, Yes on...Hate Crimes Bill?

Yesterday, to no one's surprise, the President's veto of funding for operations in Iraq was upheld. Also to no one's probable surprise, only two Republicans voted to override the veto--and even less surprising, Oregon's Greg Walden (OR-2) was not one of the overriders. (As an aside, one of the best things about a veto vote is that its roll call question is phrased as Passage, Objections of the President Not Withstanding. I suppose that's more artful than "Fuck you, Mr. President.") When November 2008 rolls around, for whatever else it's worth, let's not let Eastern Oregon forget that Walden remained an enabler of this foul and bloody mess at least as late as May 2007.

Now, for the surprise. In today's House vote that passed extension of federal hate crimes legislation to cover sexual identity, just 25 Republicans agreed to the bill...but one of them was Greg Walden. This made me wonder if Walden was feeling the wane of the Republican brand, was having a bizarre moment of clarity that heretofore had rarely afflicted his brain, or whether he was actually a reasonably reliable vote for gay rights issues.

Let's call it a mix of 2 and 3. Using the Human Rights Coalition scorecard {pdf} for the last three sessions, it's pretty clear that Walden is nowhere near friendly to important "gay issues." His best score was in the 109th Session, where he mustered a big fat 25 out of 100, and previous scores were a woeful 17 and 11. Eleven! Eeesh. (If you're wondering about our Democrats, all four have at least one perfect score in the last three sessions--Blumenauer and Wu are perfect across the board--and in no case is any rating below 55).

That said, his 25 was the result of a vote amending another bill to provide much the same protections as the bill passed today, and while the amendment fell out of the final version of the bill, Walden indeed voted for it. However, he was the only Oregon Representative to vote for the Federal, Defense of Marriage amendment to the Constitution, and was not a supporter of other gay-friendly bills in the 109th.

Still, as it relates specifically to hate crimes Walden appears to be on board--so maybe we can see our way clear to throwing a 'thanks' his way. Thanks, you war-enabling Bushbot! You may be a wingnut, but you're not a totally consistent wingnut, and you're still OUR wingnut. Cheers.