Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Robin Hayes, NC-08: Will the Lies Ever End?

The big lie. The little white lie. The white wash, exaggeration, embellishment, fabrication, untrue declaration, canard, cock-and-bull story, falsehood, falsity, fib, fiction, inveracity, misrepresentation, misstatement, prevarication, story, untruth, fish story, tall tale and whopper.

Most people do it or can claim to have done it at least once in their lives. There's one man, however who has done a particularly good job of making a liar out of himself. He's so good, in fact, it appears that it will be his legacy. Today we celebrate the one year anniversary of Robin Hayes' big lie - the one literally heard across the country.
"I am flat-out, completely, horizontally opposed to CAFTA. "
Rep. Robin Hayes, NC-08, July 25, 2005
You can find this statement referred to in print and online in a multitude of sources like Public Citizen, Wikipedia, The Charlotte Observer, The Hill, Business Week, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Then there are references to the Robin Hayes' lie in the blogs. Lots of references. You can find the quote at TPM Cafe, WataugaWatch, KnowledgeDrivenRevolution and Real Values.

In other words, folks in every corner of the United States know that Robin Hayes told a big fat whopper. He cruised around his district and the country talking big, saying things like, "It's not in the best interests of the core constituency I represent," and "Every time I drive through Kannapolis and I see those empty plants, I know there is no way I could vote for CAFTA."

Robin Hayes' core constituency believed his big talk and now more mills have closed and jobs continue to hemorrhage from the district.
Since 1993, more than 674 textile and apparel mills have closed in North Carolina. Between 1997 and 2002, about 100,000 textile jobs and 70,000 apparel jobs were lost. (Fayetteville Observer, 7/24/06)
If it had been the first time, I guess it wouldn't be so bad, but Hayes followed the same empty promise routine when he delivered the President Fast-track trade legislation or The Trade Act of 2002.

The situation was reminiscent of the vote over the Trade Act of 2002, which shifted some trade agreement authority from Congress to the President. Though Hayes had said "We're a definite 'no' until we get some help on textiles," he was lobbied hard by the White House and congressional leadership to vote for the measure. In the end, Hayes voted "yes" and broke down in tears on the floor of the House. (Wikipedia)

This seemed to start the ball rolling on Robin Hayes' habit of lying to his constituents. Was it the first time? Who knows. It certainly wasn't the last.

Usher in the CAFTA vote. Initially Hayes voted against the bill, but when Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, cornered Hayes in the cloak room and twisted his arm, Hayes relented and went back out on the floor and changed his vote. Hayes cast the deciding vote for CAFTA and once again, betrayed his constituents.

Hayes first voted no. He later switched after House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., came to him in the House cloak room to see what it would take to get him to vote yes.

"He said, `You tell me what you need and we're going to do it,' " Hayes told the Observer. (Charlotte Observer, 7/28/05)

Hayes and his apologists claim that he traded his vote for valuable concessions made by the arm-twister himself, Dennis Hastert. The problem is that Hastert doesn't remember making these concessions.

The "final vote was 217-215." His office said Hayes cast the 216th "yes" vote. Hastert "had a different view" on "what he had done to get Hayes to change his vote." The "speaker attributed Hayes' switch to grassroots pressure, not to any deal." Hastert: "I did have a discussion with Robin Hayes. But Robin Hayes ultimately talked to his textile people. They encouraged him to vote for the
bill ultimately" (Funk/Morrill, Charlotte Observer, 7/29/05 via Hotline).

With his habit of lying now on record, Hayes doesn't even have the credibility to challenge Hastert's version of the truth. So, instead of calling Hastert a liar, he decides he likes the story about talking to his "textile people" better and that's the story he's currently running with.

This new version of Robin Hayes' truth has been documented in The Fayetteville Observer and was picked up by National Journal's Hotline. Neither source fleshed out the story or made reference to the fact that it was not the original version of the story as told by Hayes.

Now, instead of receiving concessions from Hastert, the story is that Hayes received phone calls from textiles firms that support CAFTA, encouraging him to vote for it.

Hayes "initially opposed" CAFTA but "ended up voting for the agreement after receiving calls from several textile organizations and companies that endorsed the deal." (Fayetteville Observer 7/24/06, Hotline 7/24/06)

Phone calls....after midnight...while Hayes is on the House floor conducting the people's business. Just how did they get his cell phone number and why wasn't that number handed out to the thousands of people who wanted their jobs protected. I'm sure a few would have stayed up to lobby the congressman if they thought he was going to go back on his word.

Please, is anyone else besides Hotline buying this one? I'm having a hard time buying it. What I see is a pathetic attempt by Robin Hayes to switch versions of his story. When one doesn't work he simply pulls out a new version. Neither of them true, or at least not the full truth. Once again, it isn't the first time.

As early as August of last year national pundits were saying 2006 would be the time for Democrats to challenge Hayes.

If supporting "free trade" is "serious electoral baggage anywhere in this country," the Carolinas ought to be the place.


"Thats why I have to wonder" about Dem threats directed against Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC 08) after his vote for CAFTA. "I'm not sure why I should assume it will now have a different ending."Every cycle and it's possible trade could become a decisive issue. Hayes can't afford to ignore Dem attacks about his vote if the party fields a credible challenger (Rothenberg, Roll Call 8/8/05 via Hotline).

Enter Larry Kissell, a teacher who spent 27 years working in the textiles industry only to see his job go to Mexico after free trade agreements started to work their damage. Larry spent his childhood in Biscoe, NC and has chosen to raise his own children there. As a long-time resident and a deacon at his church, Larry offers the 8th Congressional District the chance to elect someone who mirrors their district - someone with strong moral values. Someone who isn't a millionaire. Someone who works hard for a living.

Early polls showed Kissell running in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent, Hayes. This must have been a shock for Hayes, who has rarely received less than 54% of the vote.

The race was on and Kissell has challenged Hayes at every step and misstep.

On July 4, President Bush visited Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, NC. Fort Bragg borders North Carolina's 8th CD and even though Hayes hasn't missed a chance to campaign with Bush over the years, this time he wasn't anywhere to be seen. His camp, of course, says he was there. However, there are no pictures or any reported accounts of Hayes and Bush together. Not here, here, here, here or here. Five of North Carolina's major newspapers searched and not one news story printed about Bush's visit to Fort Bragg includes mention of Hayes and there has not been one picture printed of the two together from the event.

When the Kissell camp called Hayes on his no-show the reply was swift and Hayes and his people were shocked. Shocked!
“This baseless attack is not only outrageous, it’s bizarre." (The Hill, 7/11/06)
Despite their shock and outrage, the Hayes camp has never fully explained why there are no pictures and no accounts of Bush and Hayes together. We only have Hayes' word for it and that doesn't seem to be worth much these days. This makes it a bit surprising that the Raleigh News and Observer took the Hayes response without further investigation. Then, when BlueNC blogger, Working for Change, called them on it the Observer stubbornly dug in.....and buried itself.

The first part of the following quote is written by J. Andrew Curliss of The Raleigh News & Observer. The second part is quoted directly from Carolyn Hern, Hayes' spokeswoman. Curliss is saying Hayes met with Bush at Fort Bragg and then stuck around for the celebration, but that's not at all what Hern is saying. Look carefully at the words Hern uses and how she uses them.

Hayes met with Bush at Fort Bragg on Tuesday and then stuck around for an Independence Day celebration.


She (Carolyn Hern) said Hayes ate with the troops at a luncheon the president also attended. Hayes and Bush talked briefly, Hern said. (Raleigh News & Observer, 7/6/06)

The National Journal picked up on the "Hayes Foe Stubs Toe" storyline that Curliss is forcing here, but they also seem to pick up on the carefully chosen words of Ms. Hern.

According to Hayes spokesperson Carolyn Hern, Hayes "ate with the troops" at the
luncheon, and later "talked briefly" with Bush (Raleigh News & Observer, 7/6/06).
Translated, that means Hayes ate with the soldiers, but not with Bush. It also means Hayes spoke with Bush, not that he met with Bush. So, why all the cryptic parsing of words? (And, why in God's name aren't professional reporters tested for reading comprehension before they are hired?) What time did Hayes arrive at Fort Bragg? Did he leave the parade he was in at 9:30 and drive the almost 2.5 (According to MapQuest) hours to Fort Bragg or did he take his private plane? Did Fort Bragg send a helicopter for him? Was the security check-in expedited at Fort Bragg because Hayes is a VIP? Did he dine with Bush? Did he meet with him face-to-face? Why can't Robin Hayes answer these simple questions with simple answers?

I'll tell you why. It's easier to lie or to have someone lie for you. Oh, they'll claim that technically it isn't a lie. They'll say that their words were misinterpreted. What they won't tell you is why they didn't set the story straight at any point in time. Nope. It's easier to just lie.

At some point, Robin Hayes is going to tell one too many. That's what happens with liars. They eventually get caught. The media, his staff and his apologists might not call him on his lies, but fortunately for the folks who live in the 8th District, Larry Kissell is going to call Hayes on his lies. Every. Single. Time.

And to that I have only one thing to say - Go Larry, Go!


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