Dr. No

Dr. No is a term that stems from the very first James Bond film, in which the British spy is sent to Jamaica to investigate the death of a fellow secret agent.  His investigation leads him to the base of Dr. Julius No, Bond’s eponymous evil counterpart.

In politics, however, Dr. No often refers to an elected official with a propensity for vetoes and “nay” votes.  Although it is a term thrown around by the media quite a lot, it has only stuck with a few politicians.  Tom Coburn, a physician and Oklahoma Senator has been called the Senate’s Dr. No for the frequent holds he puts on bills he deems unconstitutional.  Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson earned the nickname for his obstructionist tactics in the State Assembly while Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber was often derided as Dr. No for his record number of vetoes.

And then, of course, there’s Ron Paul.

Paul is a Representative from Texas and one of few remaining candidates for President.  He is also, however, an obstetrician and gynecologist who delivered more than 4,000 babies before running for public office.  And he has registered more “no” votes than just about any other member of Congress.

Paul has stated that he will “never vote for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution.”  And in his more than thirty years in office, he has stuck to his word.  The Huffington Post found that in Paul’s last eight terms, he voted 675 times against a bill when there were only ten or fewer nay votes.  From 1995 to 1997, in fact, Paul cast two thirds of all the lone negative votes in Congress.

According to S. C. Gwynne of Texas Monthly, “[Paul] has also violated almost every rule of political survival you can think of, short of committing a felony.  Paul’s beliefs run so deep that he will unhesitatingly vote against his constituents’ interests.  In a district with 675 miles of coastline, he opposes federally sponsored flood insurance.  In an overwhelmingly rural region, he speaks out against farm subsidies.  In a district with large numbers of senior citizens and poor people, he is on record opposing ‘the welfare state.’  In almost all cases, he refuses to deliver ‘pork’ to the good folks of his home district.”

Although Paul has run for President twice before (in 1988, he was the Libertarian Party’s nominee), this is the first time he candidacy has been taken seriously on the national stage.  Whether it is the rise of the Tea Party, shifting national sentiment or Paul’s sheer commitment to his principles, his message appears to finally resonating with a relatively large portion of the American public.

This post, however, will list several of Paul’s odder and more controversial nay votes; votes that will ensure posterity remembers Paul as Dr. No.  (These votes were drawn from The Huffington Post, the New York Times and Texas Monthly.)

  • At times in his House tenure, Paul has opposed (often alone) awarding Rosa Parks, Pope John Paul II, the Wright brothers and Mother Theresa Congressional Gold Medals.
  • In 1997, Paul was the only member to vote against the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act.
  • In 1997, Paul was the lone dissenter on a House-passed resolution “expressing the sense of the Congress regarding the terrorist bombing in the Jerusalem market.”
  • In 2000, Paul was the only member to vote against funding for a Holocaust memorial.
  • In 2000, Paul voted against legislation that would have allowed federal agencies to share data on child abuse and child abusers.
  • In 2001, Paul was one of just three Representatives to vote against creating a commission to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • In 2004, Paul was the sole dissenter on a resolution “recognizing and honoring the 40th anniversary of congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
  • In 2006, Paul was one of just eight nays on a condemning terrorist attacks against Israel (sponsored by now-Speaker of the House John Boehner).
  • In 2007, Paul was the only member of Congress to oppose identifying “companies that conduct business operations in Sudan” at the height of the genocide in Darfur.
  • In 2007, Paul was one of only two members to vote against the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which would have authorized the federal government to investigate still-open civil rights-era murder cases.
  • In 2008, Paul was one of only two members of Congress to vote against adopting a “grant program for armor vests for law enforcement officers.”
  • In 2009, Paul was the sole dissenter on a resolution “expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law.”
  • In 2010, Paul was the only member to oppose condolences for both the families of victims of the earthquake in Chile and the earthquake in Haiti.
  • In 2010, Paul voted against an amendment to prohibit any person from lobbying clients determined to be sponsors of terrorism.

Published by Eric Stern

Eric Stern, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is Editor-in-Chief of The Politic.

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