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Andy Harris: The doc is in the House

Gather ’round and let me tell you a story of a man named Andy. For those of us lucky enough to live in this state’s 1st Congressional District, he is the grandstanding, porn-hating, Republican state senator from my hometown of Cockeysville. And in January, he will become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives when he joins the other Republicans who swept Congress last month.

But while his official arrival in Washington is still a month away, Andy Harris is already making headlines. During a closed-door orientation session for freshman members of Congress last month, he surprised many of his colleagues by incredulously asking why the government-subsidized health-care plan provided to all members of Congress would take a month to kick in after his inauguration. He then inquired whether he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap. Why the fuss? Mainly because Harris, who is an anesthesiologist, campaigned hard against “Obamacare,” which would have allowed Americans to buy government-subsidized health care, as a giant step toward socialism. Oh, the irony. Harris’s spokeswoman said he was simply trying to point out the inefficiencies of government health care — as if the public is so naive.

Although he has served in the state legislature since 1998, Harris’ profile did not begin to rise until recently. In 2008, he defeated incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest in the Republican primary for the 1st District. Gilchrest, a Republican with a moderate streak, was willing to follow his convictions rather than party line and thus became public enemy No. 1.

That was 2008, however, when then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was riding a wave of change. Harris was defeated by Frank Kratovil, a Democrat with as much of a moderate streak as Gilchrest.

The following spring, though, students at this university gave Andy an excuse to wield his moral sword for all the state to see. With the most expensive pornography film ever made, Pirates 2: Stagnetti’s Revenge, set to be shown in the Hoff Theater, Harris introduced an amendment in the state legislature that would cut tens of millions of dollars in funding from this university if the screening went as planned.

Administrators, of course, balked, and the screening was canceled — although a student group went ahead and showed the film elsewhere anyway.

Harris, though, was seen as victorious. His grandstanding had preserved the morals and honor of the university from heathen sodomites — all by threatening to cripple it financially if of-age students paid to watch a little hanky-panky.

But Harris had made headlines, and as the wave that had carried Democrats into office only two years before began to break, Harris again ran against Kratovil in November and won.

And so it came to pass that the man who threatened to financially destroy a public university for endorsing the First Amendment and lambasted his opponent (who did not vote for Obamacare) for not stopping the health-care bill ended up as a freshman congressman demanding his own government-subsidized health care.

Alas, Dr. Harris is in the House, and I suppose we only have ourselves to blame for electing a man who conducted television interviews in his scrubs as evidence of his authority on health-care policy. And I suppose it’s understandable why Andy would be so selfish — who wouldn’t want their health care paid for by taxpayers?

But for a man who ran claiming to have the “common sense to know a government takeover won’t work,” he seems to lack the common sense necessary to not look like a fool.

Justin Snow is a senior history major. He can be reached at snow at umdbk dot com.

Originally published in The Diamondback.

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