The Minnesota GOP took notice of an odd statement from Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) in a Politico piece on the Birthers. They want Peterson to apologize for calling a quarter of his constituents Truthers and claiming that he can’t hold town-hall meetings in person with the other seventy-five percent:
Out-party politicians have long had to deal with conspiracy theorists on their side — the people who think that the Clintons killed Vince Foster or that the Bush administration helped orchestrate the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down,” said Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who represents a conservative Republican district in Minnesota. “That’s why I don’t do town meetings.”
Somehow I doubt that a full quarter of Peterson’s constituents are Truthers, or even ten percent. However, what if they were? Doesn’t Peterson have some responsibility to talk to his constituents to dispel those paranoid conspiracy theories? More to the point, Peterson should be answerable to his constituents, but I suspect that his reluctance to face them now has more to do with Peterson’s support of Obama’s agenda on cap-and-trade than it does with him being frightened away by conspiracy theorists.
Either way, it’s hardly a profile in courage. Tony Sutton, the new GOP chair in Minnesota, wants an apology, and draws the same conclusion:
Collin Peterson must immediately apologize for the outrageous and offensive comments he made about his own constituents. By stating that ‘twenty-five percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down’ and that’s ‘why I don’t do town meetings,’ Peterson revealed just how out of touch and disconnected he has become in Washington. Given his liberal voting record, the real reason Peterson doesn’t hold town hall meetings is because he is afraid to face the residents of his district.
On the overall Birther issue, it’s becoming a problem for Republicans. We have people like Chris Matthews helping to fuel it, not because Matthews has objective journalistic instincts, but because he knows he can make all Republicans look like loons — and encourage more Birthers to get vocal. Just when we need all the credibility we can muster to fight against ObamaCare and cap-and-tax, it’s getting sapped by the conspiracy theorists.