Bob Goodlatte Needs a Better Job Description

The Gender Shrapnel Blog is not about Bob Goodlatte, but it is about problems of discrimination that arise at the intersection of gender with race, religion, sexuality, national origin, socioeconomic class, and parental status.  Gender Shrapnel points out the injustices, discrepancies, hypocrisies, and general bullshit that prevail when individuals and/or the groups who represent them assume too much power, decide they are more important or more valuable than others, and make self-serving decisions.

As a long-time resident of Virginia’s 6th District, I cannot write about gender shrapnel and ignore our district’s paragon of selfishness and discrimination, Congressman Goodlatte.  At the same time, this egomaniac probably loves the press he is getting—both good(latte) and bad(latte) (no one can resist these bad latte jokes, as bad as they are)—and so I am loath to feed the congressman’s hunger for attention.  Nevertheless, I persist.

You may know Bob Goodlatte as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the one whose staff members worked secretly with “President” Trump to draft the first travel ban.  Goodlatte’s website boasts the following:

“Established in 1813, the House Judiciary Committee is the second oldest standing committee in Congress. This Committee has jurisdiction over a number of matters from immigration, terrorism, crime, and intellectual property to constitutional amendments, anti-trust, patents, and copyright. The Committee is also responsible for oversight of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.”  (The remainder of the paragraph reads like this:  “In addition to currently serving as Chairman, Bob has served on the Judiciary Committee in a variety of leadership roles, including Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet (112th Congress), Vice Ranking Member (111th Congress), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Task Force on Judicial Impeachment (111th Congress), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Task Force (110th Congress), and Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property (109th Congress)”).

This is an unfortunate amount of power for a man who has proven himself to be patently unwilling to listen to his constituents.  This is too much power for an elected official whom we know to refuse to understand situations of people who he sees as unlike him and not worthy of his full attention and respect.   Bob Goodlatte is stroking his own ego as he tramples democratic discourse and participation.  We know that Goodlatte has skillfully evaded his constituents for years, using the “telephone town hall” as a slimy way to lead himself and others to believe that he is in touch with the multiple—and growing—concerns of the 6th District (see last week’s blog post about the phoney baloney telephone town hall).  These concerns include, but are certainly not limited to, healthcare, social security benefits, immigration, and the “president’s” ties to Russia.

Many concerned citizens in Virginia’s 6th District might prefer that Goodlatte’s website description read like this:

“Established in 1813, the House Judiciary Committee is the second oldest standing committee in Congress, which suggests that it is time for Congress to question the committee’s maintenance of centuries-old status quo and poor leadership. This Committee has jurisdiction over a number of matters, from welcoming individuals seeking better lives, investigating domestic terrorism, reforming the criminal justice system, and intellectual critical thinking, inquiry, and property to constitutional amendments, anti-trust, patents, and copyright. The Committee is also responsible for oversight of the Departments of Justice and Security for All.”

On February 11, 2017, Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) and several of his colleagues in the House of Representatives requested to meet with the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On February 16, Representative Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Representatives Barragán, Cárdenas, Cleaver, Correa, Kihuen, Napolitano, Torres, and Vargas were excluded from the meeting that they themselves had requested.  Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Speaker Paul Ryan requested their exclusion.  Gutiérrez posted a statement on his official website that speaks to Bob Goodlatte’s evasions and discriminatory exclusions.  The second paragraph of the statement says, “The new mass deportation executive orders are unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which the Speaker and Chairman Bob Goodlatte are going to control the information being disseminated to Members of Congress.  I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte.  Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?”  Gutiérrez appropriately criticizes Goodlatte’s control of information and directly links his behaviors to Bannon racism.  (I also love how he removed the words “competent” and “compassionate” when he got to the Goodlatte description.)

Jerrold Nadler (NY) has also had to encourage Goodlatte to do his job as chairman of the House Judiciary committee.  See this full statement on Nadler’s official website, with this particular piece reserved for Bob Goodlatte:  “Third, Chairman Goodlatte also gave notice of an amendment in the nature of a substitute to my resolution, with wording virtually identical to H. Res. 111.  That amendment only exists as a threat to cut off debate on the underlying resolution.  I urge the Chairman not to break from the longstanding practice of the House Judiciary Committee, and to allow a full debate on the resolution of inquiry.  If Republicans choose to block the measure, so be it.  At least we will know where they stand.  I believe that the public sees this ‘tactical scheduling’ as an act of cowardice.  I predict that any attempt to curtail debate or limit media coverage of our markup will only backfire.  As they say, the eyes of the nation will surely be upon them.”

Nadler is pinpointing two elements highlighted by many residents of Goodlatte’s home 6th District of Virginia (including Chris Gavaler and Gene Zitver):  “tactical scheduling” and “cowardice.”  Indeed, Goodlatte spends most of his time avoiding real discussion, confrontation, and resolution, thus getting paid not to do his job.

On his website, Goodlatte calls Virginia’s 6th District “one of the most diverse and beautiful regions in the country.”  I wonder how Goodlatte is coding “diverse” in this sentence, given that he seems to be attempting to remove from his district and his congressional meetings individuals who are unlike him.  Goodlatte does not seem to realize that, as of 2014, “Roanoke, Goodlatte’s home in the Blue Ridge Valley, has seen its Hispanic population soar by 280 percent since 2000, to 6 percent of 100,000 residents — the biggest leap of any jurisdiction in the state except the Washington suburbs. In Harrisonburg, a college town 100 miles north, Hispanics have reached 16 percent of 49,000 residents.  In many other areas of Goodlatte’s district, immigrants are a fast-growing part of the landscape and workforce — from Mexicans who pick apples and process poultry to Indians who work in high-tech and medical fields” (cited in this piece in The Washington Post, 3-2-14).

Ya es el momento de que el señor Goodlatte vuelva a escribir la descripción de sus responsabilidades: hablar con y conocer a la gente de su distrito; representar plenamente los intereses de toda la gente de su distrito; estar presente en la región que representa; incluir a todxs sus colegas en las conversaciones que tengan un impacto en nuestro estado, país y mundo; entender el nivel de corrupción de su presidente y su propio papel en la investigación de dicha corrupción; aprender a ser un ser humano valiente, trabajador, compasivo y competente.

Sin embargo, me imagino que ya es tarde para que este hombre aprenda a hacer su trabajo.  Ya nos toca pensar en otra persona que pueda guiar al Sexto Distrito.

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