Phil Berger, Jr. sure is fond of signing pledges and pandering to special interests. I realize he’s chasing money and trying to establish his conservative credentials in his bid to replace Howard Coble in Congress, but he could use a little subtlety. Right now, he looks just like any other politician.

The trend started early when Berger tweeted that he had signed Grover Norquist’s so-called “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” At a time when Republicans of all stripes are moving away from Grover and his heavy-handed, deficit-inducing tactics, Berger is embracing them. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge and Norquist’s pledge to primary GOP incumbents who cross him have been a major impediment to reaching a Grand Bargain to restore fiscal responsibility.

Next up, Berger signed a pledge to to Repeal Obamacare. Again, the country is ready to move on, but Berger is not. If elected, he’ll join the crowd that shut down the government in what was essentially a temper tantrum over health care reform.

Then last week, Berger puts out a tweet touting his membership in the NRA complete with photos of him shooting an assault rife. He also claims to be the only candidate who has “worked to strengthen our #2A freedoms.” I’m not sure what he’s done since he is a district attorney but I’m guessing everybody else in that race is also gun friendly, making his claim a bit dubious.

The guy is less than two months in the race and the people he is most interested in wooing are the special interests. He’s making promises that will box him in if he’s elected to Congress and laying the groundwork for support from Grover Norquist, the Tea Party and the NRA. That’s exactly what we don’t need in Congress: People beholden to ideologues and big money.

Berger could stake out much the same ground by talking to voters instead of pandering to interest groups. He could lay out reasons he supports low taxes, opposes the Affordable Care Act and supports a broad interpretation of our right to bear arms. But he didn’t. At a time when we need leadership and independent voices, Phil Berger, Jr. is just another stereotypical politician, spouting talking points and chasing money.

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