“Conversations with Cathy” are not “conversations.” In a conversation there is back and forth, a chance to hear a talking point and respond by questioning the validity of the point. A conversation is what I had with a Republican friend over a three hour breakfast a couple of weeks ago. I came away with a better understanding of the underlayment for his thoughts and he might have heard enough from me to shift his position a few mental millimeters.
At the Green Bluff Grange night before last, Tuesday, May 29th, McMorris Rodgers held forth for an hour in front of an audience of about thirty. It turned out I chose a seat next to McMorris Rodgers’ mother. When I asked she told me she had heard of the Town Hall “from an email.” She offered that she wasn’t familiar enough with Facebook to know if it had been posted there. I offered that I had also heard “through an email.” Several of the others if the thirty in the room were paid McMorris Rodgers staff. Even with the very limited advertising, if one were to judge by the questions asked, the audience was divided about half and half between dyed-in-the-wool supporters and detractors.
Evidence of the limited advertising was not hard to find. One woman I spoke with lives within a mile of the Green Bluff Grange and knows members of the Green Bluff Growers Association (of whom she thought only 4-5 were in attendance). She only heard about the gathering from my email the day of the event. The man sitting next to said he thought he’d seen something in the local community paper. He was very, very impressed that McMorris Rodgers would take time from her important work with President Trump and Paul Ryan to spend some of it with such a tiny crowd in Green Bluff. He later thanked McMorris Rodgers for her vote on H.R. 38, not mentioning it was the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.” (See CMR’s “Courageous Conversations”) Clearly, the NRA (or his church?) was keeping him informed of important developments.
In a conversation there is quite a lot of back and forth, a chance to challenge background. The crowd was too polite to get beyond niceties of letting her trigger all the mind frames she wanted.
Take the “Balanced Budget Amendment,” for example. At its mere mention there were approving murmurs. One commenter lamented out loud how they’d been working to pass a balanced budget amendment for years. No one, including me, butted in to point out that budgets have two sides, expenditures and income, No one pointed out she had just proudly dropped 1.3 trillion dollars from the income side of the ledger over the next ten years by giving 80% of that money to the already wealthy. No one, including me, probed to see if she had any concept of how a balanced budget amendment would work in the next economic meltdown. (How do you do a stimulus when you have to balance the budget?) No, the approving murmurs went unchallenged. The people of the approving murmurs were highly appreciative of McMorris Rodgers’ vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment even though all of us realize the vote is only symbolic, kept at bay by those evil, misguided Democrats–at least until such time as the forces of good rational capitalism can prevail. (To me this is a wake up call to pay close attention to all those seemingly quixotic votes on abortion, guns, the REINS Act, and many other issues. They may never actually pass–but tilting at these windmills unites the base.)
In short there was no “conversation” around the Balanced Budget Amendment. There was only a nod to a Republican/Libertarian shibboleth.
Net Neutrality? Ah. The regulation as it came from the Obama administration was bad, according to McMorris Rodgers, because it was based on 1930’s law concerning public utilities. “I’m in favor of ‘a law’ against ‘blocking and throttling’ that would apply to ISP’s AND tech companies.” OK. No one asked, including me, if she had put a bill in the hopper. Is this high on her priority list or is she just hoping we’ll forget and let it ride? Forget while the ISPs take up blocking and throttling, warming us slowly like the famous frog in the cook pot. If she tried writing a bill that would regulate anything of financial import her donors would have stroke. Don’t tell us you’re “in favor.” Write a bill, promote it, convince your colleagues, get it passed.
Climate Change? McMorris Rodgers will not say if she subscribes to the science of climate change. She doesn’t want to be outed as an outright climate denier, but she gives a hint: “The Paris Accords would have wrecked the economy! We’ve already done our bit by improving the fuel efficiency of our cars.” In other words, either she denies the science of climate change or she has given up hope and given up cooperation, preferring a “race to the bottom” in which our children will deal with increasing climate disasters and the rich will build walls to protect their golf courses from the rising sea.
It seems odd she is so sure she can predict the economic future (we must cut entitlements to balance the budget!) and yet she denies the predictions of atmospheric science. The last I checked, atmospheric physics was far more reliably predictive than economics.
There is more, but I’m out of gas. I hope many will attend today’s 3-4PM pseudo-“Conversation with Cathy” in Pullman. There is a rumor there will be national media in attendance. I hope you will press her for answers to questions I didn’t ask. There is another opportunity in Deer Park on Friday. See the Calendar below for details.
Keep to the high ground,