In addition to the WTOP debate Lowell discusses below , Democrat Gerry Connolly and Tea Party Repub Keith Fimian also appeared on WAMU’s Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi today.
What struck me most about this debate was how uncomfortable Fimian became every time anyone tried to pull him away from what Connolly called his Republican “national partisan talking points”. He clung to those tired old right wing clichés like a baby to its blanket. Every time anyone raised an issue that diverted from his talking points, Fimian tried to dodge the question and get back to the Karl Rove/Newt Gingrich-approved, poll-tested script.
When Tom Sherwood asked the candidates what ideas they had to fix the economy other than tax cuts, Fimian said his answer was – cutting capital gains taxes! (To ZERO for start up businesses. Heck, why not issue them free brandy and cigars too?)
Abortion? “…if abortion is your issue, Mr. Connolly is your guy. But if you wanna fix this economy, if you wanna grow this economy, create jobs, get out of the mess we’re in and it is now dangerous…I’m the guy. I’m the man to do it. Gerry Connolly is not…”
Gays in the military? “I would rely on the good judgment of our commanders…But, look…[w]hat matters to the voters right now are jobs, the economy and spending…”
Voting rights for the District? “I’m willing to listen to the arguments on both sides of the issue and get up to speed to understand what people on both sides think.” (Translation: I have no frickin’ idea because my campaign manager didn’t brief me on that.)
And here was my favorite interchange, on health care:
Well, listen. For Connolly to make an issue of me not reading a bill when I’m not in Congress is absurd. I read the summaries of it. And, in fact, and this bill…
But it hasn’t stopped you for calling to repeal it
This bill doesn’t do what it needs to do.
It doesn’t address health care adequately and that’s the problem. But look, the fundamental point here is the spending.
Pre-existing conditions — I need to see the language that would — will be address finally in the bill…
So, if I got this straight – Fimian has not bothered to read the health care bill, passed months ago, that is at the absolute center of his party’s attacks on Obama and the Dems, yet wants to repeal the bill – but at the same time, he refuses to take a stand on pre-existing conditions because “I need to see the language” in the bill!
As some judges like to say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
If he were my student, I’d give Fimian an F or perhaps an Incomplete for his willful failure to study anything other than a single set of talking points. Being a Congressman is a challenging job, requiring one to confront a wide range of issues. You can’t just mouth slogans – you have to actually stay abreast of the issues and do some work.
On this, there is no question that Gerry Connolly is the superior candidate. Whatever you hear about Gerry, no one has ever questioned that he is a hard worker who knows his stuff. And in a world of increasingly complex, interwoven problems, that’s what we need – a worker, not some wooden dummy sitting on Karl Rove’s lap.