Sen. Rucho tweets into trouble

December 16, 2013 

State Sen. Bob Rucho, a Mecklenburg County Republican, is so enthusiastic about his faith in small government, low taxes and individual initiative that he will sermonize to anyone who will listen. Indeed, he gets so caught up in political preaching that sometimes he talks faster than he thinks.

That can be a problem in any situation. It’s especially a problem when you do it on Twitter.

Up early on Sunday, Rucho took to the keyboard to tell his Twitter followers: “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined.” (U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the majority opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.)

The tweet ricocheted around cyberspace and brought a storm of criticism. No wonder. To say that a law intended to extend health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans is worse for the United States than the effects of more than 400,000 U.S. military members killed in World War II or the nearly 3,000 killed by the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks is a statement that exceeds its absurdity only with its insensitivity.

The tweet could be dismissed as a rabidly partisan exclamation by a fringe zealot, but that’s not the case with Rucho. He was a leading lawmaker behind the GOP’s gerrymandering of the state’s legislative and congressional districts and, as co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, had a major role in cutting taxes. He also was a co-sponsor of legislation that blocked North Carolina from expanding Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of low-income North Carolinians who lack insurance.

N.C. Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope has asked Rucho to apologize, but Rucho said he wouldn’t. “What I stand on is the truth,” he said.

It’s unsettling that someone with a sense of history and proportion that is so off kilter has a hand on the wheel steering North Carolina. Maybe that’s why the wheel is stuck on a hard right turn.

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