That headline is a little more fair than the suggestions that came to me this morning on a clip from a town-hall meeting held by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) last night, in which the Congressman loses his cool with a constituent for interrupting him. Moran raises his voice when the veteran interrupts his answer and offers him a choice to either sit down or leave so that Moran can finish. I’m not sure that I’d say Moran yelled at the man, as some claim — and in truth, the real issue is in Moran’s answer, not his delivery:
It’s certainly not a highlight reel for Moran’s concept of constituent services, but running a town-hall meeting does require a little decorum. The problem is that Moran’s the one who disrupted it. Moran’s contempt shines through right from the moment he begins speaking, saying, “And if you served your country in the military for 27 years, I thank you for that service, sir.” Is it so unusual to find a military veteran in Moran’s district that his gratitude has to come with a qualifier? Does Moran employ the qualifier for veterans who ask questions along the lines of “How can you be so totally awesome and humble at the same time?” He then insults the constituent by claiming that his question was “caustic” rather than “legitimate,” prompting the veteran to interrupt — and Moran to act like an old schoolmarm when he does.
In between, though, Moran is correct — as far as he goes. If the House is in recess, it’s because the Republicans allowed it to be so; Democrats have no control over that, save what the GOP leadership allows through negotiations. But why would the House go into recess long enough to allow Moran to hold a town-hall meeting? Well, it’s because the House has already passed a budget. In fact, the House also passed a new continuing resolution. The Senate has not passed a budget in eighteen months where Democrats control the majority, and the House didn’t pass even a budget resolution in all of 2010, while Moran and his colleagues had the majority.
The real question that Moran should answer isn’t why he was off the clock last night. It’s why he and his 77-seat Democratic majority couldn’t bother to pass a budget when they had all year to do it, and full control of Washington DC. Heck, you could even ask that question nicely, and I’m pretty sure Moran would react in his predictably irritable manner.
Note: Yes, I double-checked to make sure this was really Jim Moran this time.