A Pennsylvania RINO works out a deal to share power with a liberal Democrat after voters reject the Democrats.
"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, is sly whispers rustling through the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city; he infects the body politics so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear."
— Marcus Tullius Cicero,Roman orator, statesman 42 BC
George Washington had his Benedict Arnold. Julius Caesar had his Brutus. Bruce Castor has his Jim Matthews.
Matthews, a Montgomery County commissioner in suburban Philadelphia who ran as a Republican in November, stunned political observers by announcing a pact with Democrat Joe Hoeffel to form a voting majority on the three-member Board of Commissioners.
The odd man out of the equation is Castor, the top vote-getter in the Nov. 6 election. More than 85,000 voters supported Castor and his efforts to keep Republican control of the board.
Matthews slapped every one of the 85,000 voters in the face Tuesday when he outlined his deal with the devil.
Matthews is the brother of Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" program and was the unsuccessful candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor with Lynn Swann in 2006.
When the new commissioners' board takes office in January, Matthews will serve as chairman and Hoeffel, a bust as county commissioner in the early 1990s, will serve as vice chairman. Tradition and the spoils of politics dictate that the majority party holds chairman and vice chairman titles.
Matthews decided his own lust for power supercedes the wishes of the voters.
How is Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Ken Davis going to explain this one? Your party wins control of the commissioners' board and you now hand power to the minority party? There is no place for Matthews, Davis (and their puppet-master, GOP financier Bob Asher) to hide. Asher is also a national Republican committeeman, which might help explain why the GOP is in such trouble.
Montgomery County voters made it very clear last month they want the Republican Party to continue running the county, as it has for the past 138 years. Matthews' decision to elevate Hoeffel to vice chairman negates the results of the election. It countermands the will of the people.
This is bigger than Matthews, whose legacy is now one of a political traitor. The county, state and national Republican Party have to intervene because this is an assault on the political process.
Voters need to have some sense that the people they elect will attempt to stand behind their promises. When you vote Republican, you want Republicans to hold power, not hand it to the election losers on a silver platter.
Matthews may think he’s won something by giving Hoeffel a say in county government, but Matthews has lost what little credibility he had with voters. He has also set in motion the Democratic takeover of county government in four years. Matthews will never win another election — in Montgomery County or anywhere else. Voters simply can't trust this guy.
You don't make a deal with Democrats when your party wins majority control. This is Politics 101 and Matthews has flunked. We’re dealing with liberal Joe Hoeffel, Ed Rendell's pal. Hoeffel ran on a platform of big government and higher taxes.
During the campaign, Matthews accused Hoeffel of "picking your pockets with higher taxes." In one campaign ad, Matthews said "Hoeffel is proud he raised our taxes." What's going to happen when Hoeffel wants to raise taxes? Will Matthews provide the second vote?
And didn't Joe Hoeffel accuse Matthews of influence-peddling and corruption? What does that say about Hoeffel's character if he’s now willing to work with Matthews?
It appears Matthews and Hoeffel were made for each other. Career politicians without a shred of integrity between them.
The only person dealing with a full deck in this latest Matthews-Davis-Asher debacle is Castor.
"The consequences to the (Republican) Party would just be devastating," said Castor, noting that residents had placed control of county government in Republican hands with their votes, not a Republican and a Democrat. "It would just be insanity."
It's time for rank-and-file GOP to step in and save the Republican Party from the enemy within.
Matthews, Davis and Asher should be drummed out of the Republican Party. They want to get into bed with a liberal Democrat? Fine. Let them change their party registration. Don't pretend you're Republicans. The trio has already insulted 85,000 Republican voters by making the deal with Hoeffel.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas