It's the Great Schism, Northwest edition: State Attorney General Rob McKenna, emblematic of Washington's Vital Center, gets excommunicated for joining a multi-state lawsuit challenging Obamacare (a kind of reverse version of David Frum's explusion from the American Enterprise Institute).
Reasonable people will disagree about McKenna's judgment. A Profile in Courage a la Nebraska's George Norris, or an ill-considered suck-up to the ubiquitous Tea Baggers?
In the Seattle Times, Former U.S. Senator and state Attorney General Slade Gorton lays out a persuasive argument that McKenna acted within his authority as an independently elected official. The Attorney General should take comfort in Slade's elder-statesman imprimatur. As for others trumpeting the lawsuit, well, let's just say that it quickly slides into strange-bedfellows country.
Last Tuesday, for example, the Senate Republican Caucus issued a statement by state Senators Val Stevens of Arlington and Janea Holmquist of Moses Lake underlining their support for McKenna's "leadership and courage in fighting this unconstitutional bill." Stevens and Holmquist represent what journalist E.J. Dionne calls the "new nullifiers," embracing a states' rights agenda that would resonate with Southern voters circa 1832.
Stevens, in particular, has introduced an eclectic array of bills this session. Here's a sampling, for entertainment purposes only:
S JM 8020, Requesting that Congress amend the Seventeenth amendment of the United States Constitution (Read: end the popular election of U.S. Senators. Seriously).
S B 6567, Collecting biological samples for DNA analysis from illegal aliens. (Let this be a warning to all of you job-stealing, undocumented Swedes mulling around Darrington: Senator Stevens demands a sample of your precious bodily fluids).
S B6475, Exempting firearms and ammunition from federal regulation under the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States (I'm pretty sure that exemption from the U.S. Constitution is otherwise known as "secession" from the union).
S JM 8018, Claiming state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment (Rolling back the principle of federalism. Think of it as the Lester Maddox/George Wallace Memorial).
S B 5187, Requires proof of U.S. citizenship on voter-registration applications. (Why would all those undocumented Swedes even bother voting after the 17th Amendment has been overturned)?
Yes, politics is a curious beast. Beware some of the new kids in class, Rob.