Daryl Metcalfe is a Big Bully

The Butler Republican is a cartoon. How to fight back?

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It’s been said now and again, but it needs saying again from time to time: Daryl Metcalfe is a big bully.

The Butler Republican serves in the Pennsylvania House. His bullying is so outsized and cartoonish, in fact, that one almost hesitates to make too much of a fuss about it: Is it shooting fish in a barrel to point out that Pennsylvania’s loudest, meanest Republican is both very loud and very mean? Is it fair to hang him around the necks of every other Republican in the state when some of them can be reasonable and moderate and not at all big huge jerks? Is it even productive to complain about all of this, seeing as how it probably delights him?

Maybe. Maybe not. All we know is: Daryl Metcalfe is a big bully.

What’s the hallmark of a bully? It’s a big man who doesn’t fight fair, who presses the advantage against weaker opponents. So consider Metcalfe’s signature moments from the last couple of years:

• Decrying the funding of public transit programs like SEPTA as “welfare” because poor people in the city use it — betraying, meanwhile, a real misunderstanding of how exactly those highways into his home district are paid for.

• Silencing Philadelphia’s gay State Rep. Brian Sims when Sims wanted to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, saying Sims’ comments would be a violation of “God’s law.”

• Sponsoring a bill that would make life hard for Philadelphia’s large immigrant population by prohibiting local governments from furnishing services and documents in any other language but English.

• Sponsoring the bill that became the Voter ID law — thankfully struck down — that would’ve disproportionately kept poor and minority Pennsylvanians away from the polls.

• And, most recently, becoming so intent on silencing Democrats at his attempted impeachment hearing for Attorney General Kathleen Kane that he tried to have security officers remove the offenders: Democrats had enough dignity to walk out en masse, instead.

Picks on the weak? Check. Won’t meet opponents on level playing ground? Check. And yeah, some of these actions are in the service of mainstream Republican positions — but some of them are not. Some are just loud and mean. It’s what Metcalfe is best at.

So what can we do about it?

Mr. Metcalfe’s proclivities are well-known; one assumes the voters in his district would’ve brought him home if his antics had been displeasing to them. (And you know what? Bully — no pun intended — for him: His Facebook page reveals that hard work among his constituents might be one of Metcalfe’s few real virtues.)  So there’s no immediate small-ball way of ending his continued annoyances.

Ignoring him is impossible: He’s not Fred Phelps standing on a street corner with a naughty sign. Metcalfe’s bullying has real consequences.

For now, then, perhaps the only viable action is to keep naming the behavior — to call Metcalfe a “bully” every time he acts like one, to never act like he practices a reasonable, mainstream brand of politics, but to call out his behavior every single time he acts out.

Then, wait for him to make a misstep.

I won’t suggest any failure of character on Metcalfe’s part: I’m sure he’s the God-fearing Christian we all believe him to be. Instead, high-flying politicians who make their name through rabble-rousing and high-profile gadflying tend to come to a bad end. Either they fade away — how often do you think of Ann Coulter anymore? — or they suddenly piss off too many people.

Either way, Daryl Metcalfe’s time is probably coming. Until then, we must keep calling him what he is: A big ol’ bully.

Find @JoelMMathis on Twitter. 


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