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Voters give Metcalfe the right to fire away

| Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

Crazy or cagey?

Perhaps Daryl Metcalfe is a bit of both.

Most of Pennsylvania's 253 lawmakers toil in relative obscurity. Many probably find unsettling the idea of being recognized by the lady behind them in the supermarket deli line.

Not Metcalfe, 46, the outrageously outspoken Republican representative from Cranberry who doesn't always play to rave reviews.

On Monday, the liberal Internet site Daily Kos recommended Metcalfe's fellow legislators shun him because, "The accumulation of jackassery he has displayed in his decade in the Legislature (has) reached a new peak."

The Kossacks were upset over Metcalfe's criticism of an organization known as Operation Free. The group of military veterans is on a 21-state bus tour lecturing people on the supposed evils of purported climate change.

Prior to the organization's stop in Pittsburgh Tuesday, Metcalfe called members of the group "traitors" and "Benedict Arnolds." He accused them of attempting to capitalize on their military service to promote a leftist agenda.

Whatever your thoughts might be on global warming, branding as traitors soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan because they exercised their free speech rights is extreme.

But that's nothing new for Metcalfe. He embraces the extreme as though it was an old and extremely wealthy relative suffering from pneumonia while reworking his or her will.

Last month, Metcalfe was the lone House member voting against a seemingly harmless resolution designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

He contended the legislation advanced a homosexual agenda because it recognized that men can be victims of rape.

Last year, Metcalfe stalled passage of an innocuous resolution recognizing the U.S. chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's annual convention in Harrisburg.

His objection• "The Muslims do not recognize Jesus Christ as God," he explained at the time.

I could go on, but I believe Metcalfe's history of taking what charitably could be called unusual positions has been sufficiently documented. That does not, however, necessarily mean he is unhinged.

Perhaps Metcalfe has taken these peculiar stands for reasons more calculated than cuckoo. Perhaps he recognizes in these offbeat outbursts something his detractors do not: They obviously appeal to his constituents.

Consider: In Metcalfe's last re-election bid in 2008, he garnered 67 percent of the vote. Since he first ran for the office in 1998, he has never failed to obtain less than 62 percent in any primary or general election.

Does Metcalfe often wield the verbal equivalent of an automatic assault rifle when he shoots from the hip• Yes.

But Butler County voters keep providing him opportunities to indulge a trigger finger so itchy you would think he had perpetual poison ivy. Metcalfe yesterday attributed that to his ability to be a straight shooter.

"I have been blessed with broad and deep support in response to my leadership of speaking the truth — even when it is addressing an issue that is specifically set up to give the leftists maximum media spin," he said.

Is Metcalfe crazy or cagey?

Perhaps the best answer is that those behaviors are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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