Principles and grandstanding sometimes look awfully similar

It’s not clear what lesson frustrated legislative leaders think Sen. Lora Reinbold must learn. But since she became the wild-thing chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Eagle River Republican has learned she can make headlines seven days a week.

All she has to do is stand by her principles.

She won’t wear a mask — or at least won’t wear an approved mask — during her legislative duties. She won’t cooperate with the governor, or with many of her colleagues in both parties. She won’t confine her Judiciary Committee hearings to the real world, having found the purple haze of right-wing conspiracy theories far more exciting.

“Won’t” should be her middle name.

From what I can tell, she sees herself as the only honest person in the room. The only one who is ready to tell it like it is. The only one who is willing to stand up to the Man. The only one with the guts to take on fake news and the Deep State.

She is a new kind of legislator — a species becoming common in many states. This kind is not made for governing. For them, legislating is for weaklings.

Lora Reinbold apparently believes she has been elected to put it to the System — and that’s exactly what she is doing.

Until recently, elected officials understood why it was important to get high marks in the category “works well with others.” Legislators did not have to like or approve of others, any more than players in the NBA like or approve of their teammates. But guys in the NBA still pass the ball to players they have nothing to do with off the court, taking solace in the ancient wisdom of “It is what it is.”

Sen. Reinbold is not passing the ball to anyone. She’s too principled.

It’s not widely appreciated that highly principled people cause a lot of trouble, and not deceased Congressman John Lewis’ “good trouble.” They argue with their neighbors, kids and former spouses. They fill the law courts with frivolous lawsuits. They tie up public hearings in trivia. They send lengthy diatribes to the president demanding immediate reply.

As my late friend Johnny Grames thundered after losing a lawsuit, “I am a Greek! I must have justice!” He would have been better off having a beer.

At the same time, I don’t have any sympathy for the Senate leadership. Sen. Peter Micciche, Sen. Gary Stevens and the rest of them knew what they were getting when they handed Reinbold a gavel.

What they got was a self-anointed woman of principle whose daily message for Alaskans is “Look at me.”

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