The final line of Blanche Lincoln’s first TV ad of her primary campaign goes like this: “Some in my party didn’t like it (her voting against the Democratic agenda) very much. But I approve this message because I don’t answer to my party. I answer to Arkansas.”
This is a common tactic for politicians in general and Blanche Lincoln in particular – that she defends the needs of her state rather than the needs of her party. And like most political tactics like this, it’s wrong. Because you don’t have to go back very far – just to the stimulus bill, in fact – to find Lincoln voting for the constituents of a far-away place.
During the stimulus bill, Tom Coburn proposed an amendment, which eventually passed 52-45, stripping out what he called a $243 million dollar “earmark” for Hollywood production companies. The measure sought to stimulate TV and film production. A bipartisan vote agreed to eliminate that measure, but Blanche Lincoln voted to keep it in, going against her Arkansas colleague, Democratic Senator Mark Pryor.
Now, I don’t have any problem with trying to stimulate production in Hollywood – heck, that’s my hometown and my industry Congress was trying to stimulate. So I want to thank Blanche Lincoln for answering to my interests rather than the people of Arkansas.
This vote just shows how silly the “I’m your hometown girl” shtick can be as a tactic. Of course Senators vote for things that resonate outside their state’s borders. They are part of the federal government. If they wanted to focus only on state issues, they should become state legislators. Lincoln’s defense of her votes on the basis of supporting Arkansas makes no sense at all, and is demonstrably untrue even if it did.