Walter Jones, Jr. has got quite a cult following. The folks who read “Mother Jones” AND The Ron Paul fan club are both swooning over him. Considering the diametric disagreement on a number of issues between those two camps, that is QUITE a FEAT.
Jones is the son of a long-time Democrat congressman who represented Down East for years and years. Junior served as a Democrat in the NC House — playing footsie with BOTH the Democrats AND the Republicans. In 1994, the NCGOP and RNC recruited him to switch parties and run against Martin Lancaster in the 3rd district — even though Jones’s home was not in the district at the time. Jones won that race, campaigning as a doctrinaire Gingrich-style Contract-With-America Republican.
Jones built a record as one of the most conservative members of the House. Then, 9-11 happened. Jones started off as a diehard fan of getting revenge for the travesties committed on that horrible day. Shortly, he switched gears, did a 180, and started working overtime to derail our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. At a recent rally in Raleigh, Jones quipped that former vice president Dick Cheney will go to hell for his efforts to go to war in the Middle East following 9-11. Never mind that it was actually George W. Bush who was the commander in chief at the time. Never mind that the Congress — including Jones — authorized those military actions. It’s interesting that Jones took that route with Cheney. Why not bash the efforts of Congress and the bureaucrats to micromanage the military actions — shifting the objectives from revenge against terrorists to things like school-building and women’s rights. What about the restrictive rules of engagement that really limit our soldiers’ ability to shoot back when they are being fired on?
There’s a time for policy debates. (I disagreed with the military interventions in Somalia, Lebanon, and Bosnia.) But once our folks get dropped into battle, it’s time to shut up and get them what they need to get the job done and come home victorious.
His actions are a little hard to understand. Jones’s district has a lot of military members and their families. But many of them are registered to vote elsewhere — so they’re not much of a political threat.
Jones started voting against his caucus on domestic issues, as well. Scores and scores of big-spending government programs earned his vote. He’s even joined the congressional advisory board of The Ripon Society, a group of self-described liberal Republicans whose stated objective is to filter the conservative influence from the GOP.
To my friends Down East, let’s not forget the aid and comfort he gave party-switcher Arthur Williams in the GOP runoff for NC House.
Everyone who worships WJJ as a man of principle, think long and hard about all of the issues I’ve brought up here. Just like an awful lot of other folks in Raleigh and DC, Walter is out for what’s best for Walter. Jones has been on two sides — sometimes THREE — of a lot of issues. He’s been so flexible ( ideologically) that he just might be made of plastic.