Thursday, February 16, 2017

At least Roskam said “no” publicly, before hiding from voter questions behind disconnected phone call

I’m willing to give Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., one bit of credit – he’s not spewing a whole lot of nonsense trying to justify his refusal to appear at public events where he’d be confronted by his constituents.
ROSKAM: Won't appear in public?

Roskam is the member of Congress from Wheaton who represents the bulk of DuPage County in Washington who in recent weeks has been taking heat for the fact he won’t show up at public forums and town hall events.

THE ELGIN-BASED Courier News newspaper reported recently about a recent event in which Roskam took questions from the public even though he wasn’t present – he called in by telephone.

To the people who wanted to hear from their congressman, he was just a voice on the telephone. And technology being what it is, there were glitches. Poor audio, no sound or some people just got hung up on, according to the Courier News.

But Roskam, who I remember having dealings with back in the days when he was a mere state legislator, doing his time in both the Illinois House and state Senate before going off and becoming a “big shot” in Washington, D.C., seems to think this is adequate in terms of meeting with the people who actually voted to send him off to Capitol Hill.

Now having spent the past quarter century of my life covering political geeks, I’m used to them spewing a sense of double-talk, particularly when the blunt truth would be a response something along the lines of, “I don’t want to answer that question.”

IN THIS PARTICULAR call-in forum, someone tried to get Roskam to commit to participating in a public forum against his opponent come the 2018 election cycle. To which Roskam gave an honest answer – “I am not willing to make any commitments in advance of any sort of campaign. So no, in answer to your question.”

Most political people would have engaged in a convoluted line of double-talk that would have rivaled the legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel’s ability to confuse with the spoken word.

Roskam actually came out and said “no.”
'Town hall' forums often are so staged that little 'truth' comes out of them
Which isn’t surprising. It is rare that political people want to challenge an opponent face-to-face. They’d rather spew rhetoric from a distance, usually rhetoric that has been crafted well in advance and is meant to take cheap shots with a tiny bit of truth attached to it.

OF COURSE, NOW Roskam opens himself up to the charges that he’s hiding from his constituents. But I’m sure he feels more comfortable dealing with that line of accusation, rather than the other attacks that political people find themselves under.
STENGEL: Spewing nonsense better than any pol

Insofar as the people who are upset that Roskam won’t take part in “town hall” forums, I actually find myself agreeing with the congressman when he says he thinks the forums are unproductive.

The “town hall” is a format meant to simulate an actual discussion between a candidate and the voters. But too often, it comes off as rehearsed in its own way. Only certain people get called upon to ask questions, if they can be counted on to ask the “right” questions.

It’s phony public discourse. Unless, by chance, someone manages to slip in who wants to challenge. But then it just turns into a fracas. Nothing real is learned. No one is swayed. Roskam would rather not be bothered playing along.

IF ANYTHING, THERE have been times when I, as a reporter-type person, felt used covering such events, because it was thought my presence and my resulting stories offered a sense of legitimacy to such events – even when I’d point out the elements of phoniness that existed.

As for Roskam, he’s now going to have to deal with allegations that he’s dodging his constituents. Although it seems that many pols get hit with that accusation from time to time.
Is beating Duckworth his sole achievement

We’ll have to see how DuPage voters respond. Will this become a real issue come the 2018 election cycle? Or will bigger issues and more serious controversies manage to take the electoral stage?

Will Roskam wind up becoming merely the guy who once beat Tammy Duckworth for his seat, only to see her go on to become the U.S. senator from Illinois? Which sounds as hollow as when his congressional colleague, Bobby Rush, still tries to boast that HE’s the guy who once beat Barack Obama.


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