To his credit, US House Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is facing his constituents at a half-dozen town hall meetings this month while most of his counterparts in Congress are on vacation, stoking barbecues and fishing. I attended one of his meetings at the Mathews Town Hall this evening, and understood why most legislators are spending the month out of the public eye.
Pittenger was braced for confrontation even before the event began. He had prepared a brief two-part introduction: 1) he demanded that the audience be “civil”, and 2) he only wanted to spend a minute or so on any given topic. Pittenger knew there was one question burning in the minds of most attendees, and he knew his position was not popular with the group, which I would characterize as two-thirds Tea Party and Conservatives, and one-third Democrats and moderate Republicans.
The first volley was predictable, in light of earlier criticism leveled at the Congressman: “Will you vote for a House bill that funds the entire requested appropriation only if ObamaCare is defunded?” As the crowd roared its approval, Pittenger dismissed the issue with a wave of his hand. “No,” was the answer. “The political reality is that such a bill can’t be passed.”
“I voted against funding ObamaCare 15 times,” he repeated several times during the discourse. Critics noted that it is easy to vote for no-risk bills that clearly will not pass the Senate or be signed by the President, but much harder to take a principled stand that could result in shutting down the government.
He repeatedly called out critics with the line, “Do you really want to stop the paychecks of our soldiers in Afghanistan?” He did not ask if the group would mind emptying some desks in the nation’s capital, or cutting back on any of the numerous corrupt, obsolete, frivolous and costly federal programs.
Pittenger insisted that there is no chance to get such a bill through the Senate and the President, despite protests from the audience that it would be the Democrats who be risking public condemnation for “shutting down the government.” Several conservatives in the audience chided Pittenger for lack of courage. “We weren’t expected to win the Revolutionary War either,” said one. “But we kept fighting.”
Pittenger urged the group to support Republican candidates, instead of “standing around and beating your chests”. He exhorted them to express their frustrations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rather than to him. And he defended his conservative voting record, citing a 100% rating from the Heritage Action Scorecard so far this year.
Congressman Pittenger is opposed to Common Core and insists on securing the borders before considering any amnesty for illegal immigrants. He smacked all of the conservative fastballs thrown his way out of the park. Except one. And that one left conservatives filing out of the Mathews Town Hall shaking their heads.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
So let’s leave it alone,
‘Cause we can’t see eye to eye.
There ain’t no good guys,
There ain’t no bad guys.
There’s only you and me and we just disagree.