The Truth About the Republican War on Caterpillars

More

From an exterminator in the House leadership to trying to bring back DDT, the GOP has been no friend to America's larvae.

priebuscaterpillar.jpg

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (left) and a caterpillar (right). Reuters

In a statement widely taken as a metaphor, the chairman of the Republican National Committee on Thursday said his party is no more trying to hurt the nation's females than it is larval butterflies and moths.

"If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Reince Priebus told Bloomberg Television, in response to a question about the party's supposed "war on women." "It's a fiction."

But the war on caterpillars and other innocent insects, it turns out, is not a fiction at all.

Under the guise of aiding the agriculture industry, Republicans and their allies in Washington have been waging a long-running campaign to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting bug-killing pesticides. Last year, GOP Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas authored a letter, signed by several others in his party, calling on Democrats to "address the continued regulatory overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency that is a growing concern of farmers, ranchers, foresters and agribusinesses throughout the nation" by bringing up their bill to ease pesticide regulations. This obvious attempt to run roughshod over the rights of many-legged herbivores everywhere was laughably justified as a matter of "public health as we enter mosquito season."

In a similar gesture of outrageous insensitivity to the feelings of Creepy-Crawly-Americans, some conservatives also want to get the controversial insecticide DDT unbanned by the EPA. The free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute runs a website, RachelWasWrong.org, devoted to beating the drum for bringing back DDT, whose banning it terms the "dangerous legacy" of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. But for the liberals and their "tree-hugging political correctness," one NewsMax commentator wrote, bedbugs -- largely voiceless in this whole debate -- might be eradicated.

Republicans may claim that they have no anti-caterpillar agenda -- that they're just trying to protect people and plants from being bitten, that they're merely the victims of a liberal media that sympathizes with the radical bugs'-rights lobby. But the truth is clear, and it's nothing new: Republicans just don't care about caterpillars.

Need any more proof? How about this: Tom DeLay, the onetime leader of the GOP House majority, began his career as an exterminator.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Molly Ball is a staff writer covering national politics at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Recycled Chair Made From Junk Found in the Ocean

An art project inspires people to collect plastic debris from the sea, melt it down, and transform it into furniture


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Trading Stocks for Suckers?

If you think you’re smarter than the stock market, you’re probably either cheating or wrong

Video

I Spent Half My Life Making a Video Game

How a childhood hobby became a labor of love

Video

The Roughest, Toughest Race in the World

"Sixty hours. No sleep. Constant climbing and descending. You're out there by yourself. All day and night."

Video

The Gem of the Pacific Northwest

A short film explores the relationship between the Oregon coast and the people who call it home.

Video

Single-Tasking Is the New Multitasking

Trying to do too many internet things at once makes it hard to get anything done at all.

 

Video

New Zealand in HD

The country's diverse landscapes, seen in dreamy time-lapse footage

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In