Saturday, April 28, 2007

Heath Shuler

This is my first exposure to Heath Shuler; I was disappointed that his election was one of the Republican seats that turned over in 2006, though admittedly I wasn't a great fan of Charles Taylor. However, it was interesting to hear from a freshman Democrat who apparently is taking a conservative stand in the House of Representatives.

Shuler's theme this morning was about the importance of standing on principle. He quoted Scripture and Biblical concepts a number of times and seemed sincere about it; certainly I've heard enough politicians whose newly public faith was as convincing as Hillary Clinton's southern drawl. Shuler "smells right", so I'm encouraged to hear it.

He spoke about having to choose your associations carefully. While in the NFL, he was at a restaurant in New Orleans to close a multi-million dollar deal with a cellular provider. He said as the drinks flowed and the language grew more profane, he noticed some young children at a nearby table watching them closely. He decided that he was going to be an example one way or the other, so when the appetizers arrived, Shuler asked the executives if he could return thanks for the meal ("in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths", he quoted). Shuler said the alcohol stopped at that point, the conversation became more polite, and after the children came over for his autograph, he turned down the offer, telling the executives the money wasn't an issue but the company was.

From there he spoke about his association with the "Blue Dog" Democrats, forty-four and counting, who are a conservative caucus within the House (by comparison, there are only twenty-two members of the Progressive Caucus). This is a large enough group that without their support, the Democrats may very well fail to pull the majority they need to pass legislation. He said they are regularly consulted to try and be sure they stay in the "D" column and that this does make a difference.

In conclusion, he says that his parents taught him life is not hard if you do what is right and what you know in your heart to be true -- that the difficulty comes when you waffle or when you are not honest with yourself, as well as others. And he said it is important to have the courage to cross the aisle and work with both parties.

Of course, my question is always if you're conservative, why are you still in the Democratic Party? But everyone has to choose his associations, as Shuler said. Hmm.


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