By Roger Burt, PhD
I had the great joy of attending another Andy Harris “Town Hall”, in Chestertown, the other day (dripping sarcasm here). He has changed his tactics from the previous one I attended in Easton. In a sense, he is now a kinder, gentler Andy because he says even less than he did before.
This program was dominated by him presenting charts about debt and deficit. In a low key fashion, the intent, obviously, to make the audience uncomfortable about their future.
His slides and accompanying graphs suggested considerable reason for concern, given his focus on debt. The graphs even displayed projections out to 2070. Oh, my! It is clear we are in trouble! (More dripping sarcasm).
But, there was just a teensy problem about the graphs and slides: Nowhere was the data attributed to anyone or any organization. The data could clearly have been made up and, I suspected, much of it probably was. If nothing else, there should be a question raised about the validity of projecting out to 2070.
At no time did he present any programs or solutions. We simply were supposed to be concerned and then, I guess, vote for him. Why I would want to do that was not apparent. There was no program or plan, no light at the end of the tunnel.
At one point, he proclaimed that we needed to have a serious discussion about the issues. It had a bizarre Rodney “Can’t-We-All-Just-Get-Along” King quality about it. Of course, since his Tea Party brethren do nothing but block legislative progress, it had a rather hollow ring to it. There is no discussion with these radicals. (ED. NOTE: According to studies by independent organizations, this is the least productive Congress….EVER! They beat, by 40%, the previously least-productive Congress.)
In short, it was a presentation that was terribly short on conclusions, forward-looking plans or programs, solutions or anything useful or illuminating. Fundamentally, it left us with his usual stance – “NO”. Only this time, he was not even edging into confrontation.
When it came time for questions, it was apparent that the environmentalists were at the ready. They have learned, and they had preambles ready, so they got to say something, rather than asking a question and yielding the floor to Harris, for his typical obfuscation and evasion. It was at this point that there was some heat generated from the interchange. In response to one question about the Clean Water Act, he challenged, “And how will YOU pay for it.” Nice touch. Once again, no program, no solution, just negativity and it is our problem, without guidance or leadership.
From this program, it seems likely that he is going to run a campaign that is mostly evasive, as if being an incumbent is enough to get him re-elected. He doesn’t have an impressive record to run on, especially since he has voted “no” on key jobs-creating and infrastructure legislation, among others. We will see how effective an evasive campaign can be, since it opens the door to being challenged; eventually, he will have to say something.