Representative Rehberg seems to have forgotten the long-held adage of American politics that political campaigns end on America’s shores. Along the way, he’s chosen to ignore basic human respect in the face of tragedy. Straight out of the Mitt Romney school of wrong-headed foreign policy, Montana’s Congressman offered this statement following the tragic deaths in Libya:
“Our nation stands united behind the families and loved ones of the victims of this intolerant act of violence. These American heroes were not attacked because of any actions they took, but because they represented the freedom that the United States embodies. For religious extremists who demand total control, the freedom and tolerance demonstrated by the United States stands in stark contrast to their goal. America must never, ever apologize for being the light of hope for countless millions facing the darkness of tyranny.”
Even fellow Republicans have criticized Mitt Romney’s horrible attempt to politicize yesterday’s terrible day in Libya, and most Republicans have had the decency to leave politics out what is a deep personal tragedy and vexing geopolitical problem. Not Dennis Rehberg, though, who couldn’t resist the temptation to make baseless accusations about American foreign policy.
Of course this kind of exploitation of personal suffering is nothing new for Representative Rehberg. Yesterday, he offered this statement on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:
Today, our nation pauses to remember the senseless and cowardly September 11th terrorist attacks. We reflect on those who died, including the heroic first-responders who came to the aid of their fellow Americans.
While Rehberg “remembers” the heroic first responders, he certainly doesn’t believe in assisting them with medical care necessitated by the attacks. In fact, Representative Rehberg repeatedly voted against increasing health benefits for 9/11 first responders, even voting against them in a bill that passed the Senate unanimously. While I am sure that 9/11 first responders appreciate that Representative Rehberg “remembers” them, they’d much prefer that he actually help them.
When people ask me why I have so little respect for Rehberg, I typically point them to this vote. In a career defined by craven obeisance to the likes of Grover Norquist, this vote, in which Rehberg cynically voted against real heroes who made real sacrifices, stands out in a crowded field of terrible, hypocritical positions and demonstrates the kind of values Rehberg really holds.