In typical Ross fashion 

U.S. Rep. Mike Ross held a press conference Monday morning to announce that he would not seek re-election to his Fourth District congressional seat in 2012. In typical Ross fashion, he pleased no one. News of his decision broke on social media networks like Twitter while reporters waited on Ross to show up. Once the news broke, people from both the right and left started to moan.

Within one hour of his remarks, the state Republican Party sent out a statement berating Ross for being a "rubberstamp for President Obama's economic record of high unemployment, runaway debt and spiking gas prices."

A tweet from Republican State Party Chairman Doyle Webb chastised Ross — who sided with conservatives more often than many Democrats would have liked — for running scared, his "tail caught between Obama's liberal policies, Arkansans looking for true conservative [sic]."

Some Democrats made the argument that Ross's departure would ultimately hurt the party, leaving the Republicans with an advantage in the next election, which is probably true.

So, Ross speaks, no one's happy. That's typical. But if you listened to his remarks, something was a bit different. Ross took a harsh stand against Republicans' unwillingness to compromise on the debt ceiling talks in Washington. He told reporters: "They say they won't even consider reducing the subsidies for the top five oil companies, for corporate jets, for companies that ship our jobs overseas. In my opinion that's being unreasonable. And that's why polls show 58 percent of those that self-identify as Republicans even thought that the Republicans [in Congress] weren't doing enough to find some common ground and compromise."

That's not exactly an I-knew-Jack-Kennedy-and-you-sir-are-no-Jack-Kennedy moment, but it's a far cry from the GOP-talking-point-spewing Mike Ross who assured CNN viewers in 2009 — thank goodness — that he would "never vote for a bill that killed old people."

Ross also said it was going to be "fun" now that he didn't have to worry about fundraising. The pressure to constantly raise money was a "huge burden off" his shoulders.

For that moment, that one tiny instance, Arkansas progressives could hold out some hope for what Mike Ross could possibly, but probably won't ever, be: free to take a more definitive stance on Democratic issues, free to ignore the Tea Partiers and the Blue Dogs and really stand up for the hard-working and low-income people of the Fourth District.

But that only lasted for a moment. When asked whether this newfound sense of freedom would change the way he governed during his remaining 17 months in office, Ross shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm still the same guy."

The vitriolic reaction from the Republican side didn't make much sense. Instead of saying, "Thank you for reaching across the aisle, echoing our talking points and voting with us on so many of our pet issues," it was more like, "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out."

After all, Ross was right there with Republicans when they voted to let the estate tax expire, approve Bush's second round of tax cuts and authorize two wars. His stubborn demagoguery on health care nearly derailed attempts at reform. If there was ever a Democrat they could get behind, he was it!

But it's never enough.

Ross told reporters, "I'm fed up with Congress. I went there to find common ground. I'm very frustrated with the divisiveness and the highly charged partisan atmosphere that we find in Washington today."

That is to say, when you spend your political career bending over backwards, you get a back ache. Ross could learn a thing or two from one of his former colleagues from the Arkansas delegation, Blanche Lincoln. There were probably a lot of reasons Lincoln lost her senate seat, but one of the biggest problems was her reluctance to take a stand on anything in an effort to please everyone.

Say what you will about Ross's Blue Dog political philosophy — whether you think it's good natured collaboration or selfish capitulation — the man tried to find some sort of middle ground. He made a few friends and a lot of enemies but he did make efforts to get something done in a town where that's nearly impossible. The only problem is that just doesn't work when the other side consistently exhibits behavior akin to a third-grader taking his ball and going home because all the other kids won't play by his rules.

Republicans have drawn a line in the sand. You want to try to pass some kind of health care reform? No. Raise the debt ceiling? No. "Compromise" is weakness, and it's not in their vocabulary. That makes Washington a tough place for people who have tried to build their careers on cowardly concepts like consensus building, working out differences and coming together for the good of the country.


From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Mike Ross, Doyle Webb


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gerard Matthews

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Vote no on school tax

    I have never voted against a school tax in my life, but I will be voting against the debt service millage extension for the Little Rock School District.
    • May 4, 2017
  • Intracity tourism

    The issues that tug at my heartstrings are neighborhood stigma and neighborhood segregation, which are so prevalent in Little Rock. In my opinion, the solution to those problems is "intracity tourism."
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • Not leaders

    As soon as I saw the Notre Dame graduates walking out of their own commencement ceremony as Vice President Mike Pence began to speak, I thought, "Oh no, here we go again."

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Conspiracy theorists

    • Here's the conspiracy Gene Lyons knows is true: Trump conspired with the Russians - criminally…

    • on May 24, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • And now, although it is probably too late on this feed - the horrible bomber…

    • on May 24, 2017
  • Re: Trump unfit

    • Sorry, sorry - I mis-spoke or mis-wrote - the ACTUAL headline on the article was…

    • on May 23, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation