RICH JAMES: Rokita owes apology to Lake County

2013-10-06T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Rokita owes apology to Lake CountyBy Rich James nwitimes.com
October 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There are times I wish U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita would just go away.

There have been several. Last week is one of them.

He owes an apology to Lake County, where he was raised. And he owes an apology to the state of Indiana, from which he was elected to serve in Congress.

He has a pattern of performance that indicates a lack of appreciation for the poor, minorities and women.

When he was Indiana secretary of state, Rokita won great acclaim among Republicans for writing the voter ID bill that became Hoosier law.

The law says voters must produce a government-issued photo ID to be eligible to vote in Indiana.

At the time, Rokita cited vote fraud in Democratic Lake County as a primary reason for the law.

What he failed to say was that 99.9 percent of vote fraud anywhere in Indiana is through absentee balloting – where a photo ID is not required – as opposed to in-person voting. But, hey, why let the facts muddy the water?

Because his voter ID law was meant to hold down the vote of the poor and minorities, Rokita became the Republican poster boy for voter suppression.

And Rokita took that new fame across the country where conservatively governed states elevated him to sainthood.

His thoughts about blacks were more overt in 2007 while still serving as secretary of state.

Rokita was speaking to a group of Republicans when he said the party needed to court more African-Americans.

“Ninety percent of African-Americans vote Democratic,” Rokita said. “Who’s the master and who’s the slave in that relationship? How can that be healthy?”

Rokita could answer his own question about black voting by acknowledging his push to repeal Obamacare would leave millions of poor folks – both white and black – without medical coverage.

And if you had any doubts about Rokita’s true colors, he made them perfectly clear Thursday during an interview on CNN.

During a discussion with CNN anchor Carol Costello about the government shutdown, Rokita refused to admit he and fellow Republicans were responsible for the partial closing of the federal government.

Rokita went on to say Costello and the rest of the media were partly to blame for the shutdown.

The discussion between the two became argumentative as Rokita kept drifting from the subject of the shutdown.

Costello asked Rokita why he continued to take his congressional paycheck when 800,000 were on furlough because Republicans were insisting on cuts to Obamacare before they would approve a budget.

Finally, Rokita – in his very best male chauvinist voice – said, “Carol, you’re beautiful, but you have to be honest as well.”

Costello quickly ended the interview. At least someone showed some class.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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