“Better to burn out than to fade away,” goes the great rock lyric.
And like one of the hedonistic rockers that Thad McCotter loved to quote on the House floor , the guitar-wielding Michigan rep imploded in career-ending self-destruction this weekend when he abruptly resigned from Congress – leaving his fans puzzled and his Republican band-mates furious over having to fill a vacant seat just five months before Election 2012.
“This was the ultimate self-centered, egotistical thing to do,” pundit Bill Ballenger, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, told The Detroit News, looking back at an epic meltdown that began with McCotter’s inexplicable submission of fraudulent signatures in May to qualify for the Republican ballot. The gaffe left Republicans without their incumbent Congressman on the ballot – and vulnerable to Democratic challenge in a district that should be a Republican shoo-in.
“The guy has melted down and imploded before our very eyes in a way we’ve never seen.” continued Ballenger. Well, never seen in politics. But this was vintage rock n’ roll.
What made McCotter unique was his insistence on following his own muse.
Bored by DC politics, he took his guitar to the presidential campaign stage last year, singing a long-shot populist tune. He loudly attacked GOP favorite – and fellow Michigan native – Mitt Romney as an imposter. McCotter saw in ill-conceived Romneycare a reflection of the looming Obamacare disaster. But the rivalry was also personal.
Clearly, McCotter saw Romney as a silver spoon-born establishment Republican, and McCotter would be his populist, grass-roots GOP nemesis. Thad’s whirlwind tour never caught fire, and – despite ultimately endorsing Romney (and the promise of attracting his donor money) – his heart seemed out of politics.
“One minute he’s running for president, the next minute he’s resigning (from Congress),” concluded state Rep. Chuck Moss, R-Birmingham. “I’m speechless. I never saw this coming.”
Maybe not, but its shouldn’t be a surprise.
” I must `strike another match, go start anew’ by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen,” McCotter said in his resignation – quoting rock legend Dylan, natch. A good decision. These are serious times requiring serious leaders.
McCotter had forfeited the right to be taken seriously. There’s too much of that in Washington already.