My generation’s poet laureate would say this of Mississippi’s Rep. Alan Nunnelee: “He never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns.”
So now with no secrets to conceal, Nunnelee wears the frowns of those very same jugglers and clowns.
And well he should. If you recall the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in late 2012, Nunnelee stood on a soap box to herald a new America, one that would forsake a state or region whose people were enduring pain, misery and loss.
Suddenly, he and 179 other members of Congress – all Republicans with the exception of one Democrat — decided we’re a country that can – and should — turn its back on fellow citizens beset by disaster.
Most Americans thought it an odd viewpoint, but shrugged it off as just another reflection of a growing disunity in the country and an emerging disregard for the nation’s long-held values of brotherhood and community. Nonetheless, it was especially curious that a lawmaker who represents tornado prone Northeast Mississippi would jump on that kind of bandwagon. How could he not see that on another day and at another time his hypocrisy would confront him?
Now Nunnelee’s Tupelo-area district is dealing with the destruction from Monday’s string of deadly tornadoes. He wants federal help and won’t entertain such conditions as budget “offsets” and the like.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Nunnelee surveyed the storm damage Wednesday and promised he would seek the “maximum” available federal aid for his region and other hard-hit parts of the state. He certainly should. But it is only fair to remind him of his willingness to cast New Jersey and New York adrift in the despair of Sandy two years ago.
“Disaster aid, like all federal spending, is not free,” Nunnelee said in the Daily Journal report on Sandy aid.
The House approved the aid package 241-180. Nunnelee was the only Mississippi representative to vote against it.
Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo, who represents the Mississippi Gulf Coast, supported the aid package after earlier opposing it. He changed his vote after many reminders that New Jersey and New York taxpayers contributed significantly to the billions of dollars in federal aid that followed Katrina, not to mention many of them showing up as volunteers in the rebuilding.
Palazzo could be persuaded that we are our brother’s keeper no matter our region or state. Maybe the destruction of April 28 and the willingness with which the nation extends a helping hand to his district and state will bring Alan Nunnelee to the same conclusion.