Cashing in on classlessness

CASHING IN ON CLASSLESSNESS…. On Sunday, during a surprisingly rousing speech, Rep. Bart Stupak, the pro-life Michigan Democrat, was interrupted by a Republican lawmaker who shouted, “Baby killer!” We learned the next day that Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) of Texas was responsible for the ugly outburst.

When he fessed up, Neugebauer tried to sound contrite, expressing “deep regret,” and apologizing to Stupak. “The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate,” the far-right Republican said in a statement.

That was Monday. By Tuesday, Neugebauer decided his misconduct might be lucrative.

One day after admitting he yelled “baby-killer” during Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak’s speech before Sunday evening’s health care vote, Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer has posted a fundraising video on his campaign web site citing the incident.

“Not only did we see the government take over of your health care, but we saw the lives of unborn children used as a bargaining chip to somehow get the needed votes to pass this legislation,” the three-term congressman says in the video, where he’s joined by his wife, Dana. Neugebauer also sent a note about the incident, which is posted along with the video on the conservative Red State blog.

So much for “deep regret” and “inappropriate.”

I suppose this was predictable. When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) heckled the president during a speech to a joint session of Congress lasst year, he was initially contrite, too. But his remorse quickly disappeared when Wilson realized he could parlay the controversy into becoming a right-wing cause celebre. It wasn’t long before unhinged donors were throwing money at the South Carolinian.

It no doubt occurred to Neugebauer, “Hey, maybe I can be a right-wing cause celebre, too!”

It creates a bizarre dynamic — GOP extremists now have an incentive to be as boorish as possible, in order to receive rewards from a radical base. Why be an obscure back-bencher in a small caucus when you can act like an idiot and become a Republican star?

“House Republicans continue to reach new lows as they engage in shameless and dishonest fearmongering,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Ryan Rudominer. “There is no line they won’t cross if they think it will appeal to right wing extremists.”