It's one thing for congressional Republicans to vote against the Violence Against Women Act. It's another for some GOP lawmakers to try to deceive the public about their votes.
At first glance it seemed as though Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri had broken with the majority of her fellow conservatives in the House of Representatives last week to renew an expanded version of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which funds programs to assist survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse.
A statement from her office proclaimed: "Hartzler votes to protect women from acts of violence."
"Violence against women, in all its forms, is unacceptable," Hartzler said in the statement.
Reading the Hartzler press statements, one would believe she voted for the law. She didn't -- like most Republicans in Congress, Hartzler opposed VAWA when it was brought to the floor for final passage. But she voted for a watered-down version that was brought to the floor in order to be defeated, and Hartzler, aware of the popularity of the law, assumes the public won't be knowledgeable enough to tell the difference.
This way, she can get the credit for pretending to do the popular thing, while actually doing the opposite.
A spokesperson for Hartzler told McClatchy "there wasn't any intention to deceive." Oh no, of course not. Hartzler opposed legislation, then issued press releases to make it seem as if she supported the legislation. Why would anyone think she intended to deceive?
What's worse, Hartzler wasn't the only one playing this cynical game.
A Democratic source emails this afternoon to note that Reps. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) all did the exact same thing.
What happened to far-right conservatives having the courage of their convictions? If they opposed the Violence Against Women Act and felt the need to vote against it, then why pretend otherwise? Why try to deceive the public instead of explaining why they opposed the legislation?
Extremism is disconcerting, but by some measures, cowardice is worse.