Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Must Represent Moose and Squirrel!

While there may be some dispute among politicos (or Rorschach enthusiasts) about what the proposed new 7th Congressional District looks like, state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th Dist. has taken it an extra step and taken the question to the voters.

Dinniman launched the satirical contest after howls of protest went up over how convoluted the new district's lines are, as drawn by the Republican majority during the Census-driven re-districting process.

The district, now represented by Republican Patrick Meehan, runs across five counties, Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Lancaster and, "at times, stretches as narrow as a few hundred feet and, at others, practically encircles whole regions," according to a release from Dinniman's office.

The green image is the proposed new 7th Congressional District.
This surpasses the former record for convolution, the former 6th District drawn up in 2000 for the benefit of Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach who, despite the effort, has consistently won reelection by the narrowest margins of any House member in the entire U.S.

But look closely at the green image above.

Does it remind you of anything?
Bullwinkle and his sidekick, Rocky, the flying squirrel.

According to Dinniman's office, "blob without borders," "emaciated hammerhead shark" and "scrapple" were among the dozens of suggestions his office received.

But the clear winner, and it's hard to argue with his choice, is "Bullwinkle J. Moose" of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame.

Have a look at the image above, helpfully provided by Dinniman's office for easy verification, and you will have a hard time looking at this district, and ever seeing it as anything else.

The contest winner, his office reports, is Jim Callahan of Berwyn.

(I should note here that newsroom compatriot Mike Spohn and myself reached the same conclusion, but, in an unusual fit of appropriateness, decided against competing in Dinniman's contest).

"There is no doubt that the Republicans concocted this ridiculous-looking district to dissuade Democratic challengers and ensure the reelection of their members in Congress," said Dinniman in Jan. 9 release.

"The misshapen 7th district is nothing more than the Republican legislature again trying to pull one over on the voters of Pennsylvania," he said.

In a mildly disturbing display of familiarity with the once popular children's cartoon, Dinniman finished his release with a flourish, saying "in the words of Bullwinkle J. Moose, 'nothing up my sleeve ... and presto!' -- a district where Republicans can't lose."

It seems clear who Dinniman -- a state senator who, the Daily Local News recently reported, may be challenged in a primary for being too Republican in his votes -- believes to be playing the role of Boris Badanov and his cronies.

It also would seem that Dinniman is not the only person to come up with a naming contest for this bit of twisted congressional confetti. Chris Cillizza's Washington Post blog, The Fix, recognized the potential, and ran a similar contest for the mighty Seventh.

Entries there ranged from, "Goofy dancing with one of the Transformers," to "Gerrymanders in Coitus," to "Joe Sestak can run here and lose no matter what."

Other suggestions I cannot, in good conscience, ignore include: "Ben Franklin kicking New Jersey westward," "a grown-up rhinoceros and a baby rhinoceros being forcibly thrown off in different directions from the back of a horse," and "The Sitting Deer Kicks the Howling Dog."

Clearly, the readers of The Washington Post are not watching enough cartoons.

(Follow me on Twitter @PottstownNews) 

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