Tomorrow's editorial today:
In the realm of political surprises, Rep. Sue Myrick’s announcement Tuesday that she was not seeking reelection to a 10th term in Congress is a stunner to some. But it shouldn’t be.
Myrick has been in the House for 18 years and will be 71 later this year. She’s had health issues and is a breast cancer survivor. And though she has been an outspoken scrapper for conservative principles, she no longer fits the profile of power within the Republican Party. Younger tea partiers are wielding a lot of the influence these days.
Myrick didn’t say whether she was leaving politics entirely but that seems probable. If she does, she has certainly left her mark.
She broke barriers in Charlotte when she became the first – and so far only – female mayor in 1987. And she was the first Republican woman to represent North Carolina in Congress when she won the 9th district seat in 1994.
Conservative accolades have streamed in about her, and with good reason. This editorial board hasn’t agreed with her on much but she has been a conservative force during her political life. She grabbed the spotlight as a leader of the brash 1994 Republican freshman class in the House, serving on then House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s transition team. Three years later, she joined a group of junior members disillusioned with Gingrich who tried to force him to step down as speaker. Myrick never regained that kind of influence. But she’s been a reliable conservative, voting consistently along party lines.
This board endorsed Myrick several times because she represented the interests of a majority of her conservative district. But over the years, she has succumbed to extremism that was sometimes wacky and sometimes dangerous. She has been a fear-mongerer about Muslims, suggesting in 2003 that all convenience store owners were terrorists and in 2010 contending that Hezbollah was operating on the U.S.-Mexico border (the Department of Homeland Security dismissed this).
She helped promulgate outrageous contentions at raucous health care town hall meetings in 2009, allowing untruths about death panels and government access to people’s bank accounts to go unchecked. She has also helped fuel anger and resentment against immigrants with her vociferous stands on arrest and deporting of immigrants for minor offenses.
We hope the next representative for the 9th district – and many are now scrambling for the chance – will be more thoughtful and discerning about issues.
Myrick will leave with our appreciation for some things she has done. After her cancer fight, she sponsored a law to provide Medicaid coverage for mammograms and pap smears for low-income women. She also co-sponsored a bill to require the National Institutes of Health to explore the connection between environmental pollutants and cancer. As Charlotte’s mayor, she helped open this community’s eyes to the need to help the homeless, and aggressively got the city involved in setting up shelters. She was also instrumental in tackling traffic problems and transportation issues here.
Myrick should have kept her 1994 election pledge to limit herself to three terms and left office several terms ago. But like so many politicians she found political life – and the issues she worked on – too alluring to give up. With her conservative legacy intact, it’s time to go.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Tomorrow's editorial today: