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Bleeding the Fifth



Two weeks ago, Rodney Alexander surprised everyone when he abruptly resigned from the United States Congress. Well, almost everyone. In announcing his resignation, Alexander claimed that he was frustrated by gridlock, implying that Congress’s ban on earmarks (which was first and most vocally supported by his fellow Republicans) made it practically impossible for him to secure funding for projects back home. And at first, the national political media seemed to take him for his word. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, for example, suggested that Alexander’s reasons for retiring may presage a larger trend of lawmakers leaving Congress because of frustrations over ineffectiveness.

But that, as it turns out, was just a smokescreen. Alexander, after all, was Louisiana’s most senior member of Congress; he was a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, and he was in no jeopardy of losing his incumbency to a challenger. At 66…

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