Published January 13. 2013 4:00AM
While Republican congressmen from New York and New Jersey were lashing out at fellow Republicans who blocked a long overdue vote on a $60 billion aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy, they were also revealing a serious Connecticut shortcoming.
The state's Republican Party is such a mess, we don't have one prominent Republican to lash out at fellow Republicans when the occasion demands it.
Sure, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy was righteously indignant about the Congressional Republicans' hardhearted indifference but Republican Gov. Chris Christie would win the indignation competition hands down when he said, "There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker."
Christie was joined by virtually every Republican member of Congress from New York and New Jersey in bitterly attacking the leadership of their own party:
"There was betrayal."
"I can't imagine that type of disregard, that type of cavalier attitude being shown to any other part of the country."
"Disappointing and disgusting."
"The conduct of the Republican leadership was disgraceful, it was indefensible and it was immoral."
There were, of course, similar comments from Connecticut's House delegation and the state's new senior senator with two years' seniority, Richard Blumenthal, but they came from Democrats.
The voices of the angry northeastern Republicans carried the day. They restored the three states to their rightful place in the Union, at least for now, by shaming their colleagues into approving a $9.7 billion down payment three days later.
As for the remnants of the Connecticut Republican Party, Chairman Jerry Labriola did speak out - for the other side:
"The $60 billion bill is full of wasteful pork spending and should be trimmed down to actual specific disaster aid. Republicans are just trying to be fiscally responsible," said the chairman, who apparently has never seen a party line he doesn't like.
It's true this bill, like most, was pork flavored and there were the usual examples of non-related items like $250 million for fisheries in Alaska, but Labriola's "wasteful pork" also included $3 billion for mitigation projects to protect against future storms, $207 million for a damaged VA hospital in Manhattan, $4 million for repairs to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, $41 million to repair eight military bases in the hurricane's path, including Guantanamo Bay, and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
Republicans held up the bill because they wanted a matching amount in spending cuts, something not usually required in emergency bills that are routinely passed in a bipartisan vote within a week or two of a disaster.
But as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid noted, in explaining why the Katrina states quickly got $120 billion in aid and Sandy victims are still waiting, "Alabama has two Republican senators, Mississippi has two Republican senators, Texas has two Republican senators, Louisiana has one Republican senator."
The three northeastern states have no Republican senators and when Connecticut had the extraordinarily rare opportunity to elect one in two consecutive elections, the party of Labriola offered - ta da - Linda McMahon. Twice.
One New York congressman reminded everyone the three states send much more tax money to Washington than they get back and Rep. Peter King, (R) New York, took note of another source of Republican revenue when he told CNN that anyone in New York or New Jersey who contributes money to House Republicans in the future "should have their heads examined."
Of course, there's another fine source of Republican campaign funds slightly to the north of the Upper East Side of Manhattan that might need its heads examined too. Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien and Westport raised $1.2 million for the Obama campaign but nearly five times more, $5.4 million, for the forgotten but not gone Mitt Romney.
By coincidence, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater's famous crack about the perfidy of the liberal East:
"Sometimes, I think this country would be better off if we could just cut off the eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea."
And I always thought he was kidding.
Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury.