U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler didn't wait long to establish herself as one of the more vapid members of the new Congress.
ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer sat down with Hartzler and nine other newly elected members of Congress who identified with the tea party movement. Hartlzer gave a vacant-eyed non-answer when Sawyer asked if she'd vote against farm subsidies, which have arrived at Hartzler Farms Inc. in silo-sized portions.
Hartzler and her husband operate a farm in Cass County that has collected nearly $775,000 in USDA subsidies, according to the Environmental Working Group database. The irony of this, of course, is that those in the tea party movement believe that the federal government does everything wrong -- especially spend money.
Hartzler sounded like Dee Snider on the campaign trail. "All we have to do here is everyone that's conservative, just stand together and say we're not going to take this anymore," she said. But a government program that sends money directly to her house? Well, that's not so bad, apparently.
"Are you ready to vote against all farm subsidies?" Sawyer asked Hartzler during the rap session. "That's $20 billion by one estimate, at least."
"Well, I think everything should be on the table," Hartzler replied weakly. "Yes, there's a lot of us farmers that have participated in the program."
Marlin Stutzman, a new congressman from Indiana, was less equivocal, telling Sawyer that he'd vote against farm subsidies even though he, too, receives USDA payments. "The adult conversation has to be 'no,' '' Stutzman said.
Back to the gentlewoman from Missouri.
Hartzler: I'm ready to start the discussion and look at it.Hartzler's waffling earned her a mention in Frank Rich's column in Sunday's New York Times. Rich encouraged President Obama to wield "Reaganesque humor at the rapidly thickening blizzard of Tea Party hypocrisies," identifying Hartzler's in particular.
Sawyer: Not a "yes" yet?
Hartzler: I think we need to make sure everything is looked at before we just pick on the farmers.