So I Guess Senator Grassley Doesn't Like Questions

(I look forward to the updated version with video! For what it's worth, Grassley said on his Twitter-feed that the Mechanicsville meeting was the "First time in 20 counties that any attendee said disagreed w my stimulus vote." - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Senator Grassley spent this week touring several counties in Iowa, holding Town Hall meetings and doing tours of various facilities. This evening he was in Mechanicsville, IA. This is a pretty small town - it's in Cedar County - eastern side of the state.

In 2004 Cedar County was Bush 50% and Kerry 49%. In 2008 Obama got 54% to McCain's 44%. I was told by a volunteer tonight that the Obama campaign's goal in this county was 5,200 votes. Obama got 5,221 votes. 

Senator Grassley set up all his events this week in small towns - ensuring that media outlets would have to travel to see him. Well, clonecone and I went to see him - and we brought a video camera. We haven't been able to upload the video yet, but I expect to do another diary with video and more details tomorrow or the meantime, some highlights!

We started off the evening with a question from an older woman - a woman who volunteered for Obama in this county and worked her tail off - she asked Senator Grassley why he voted against the Stimulus bill, she asked him about funding abstinence only education programs and Lautenberg's upcoming bill to request those funds from research be recouped, and then she gave Senator Grassley the gift of Hyvee peanut butter and a sleeve of saltines and said, "I don't know about you, but I'm afraid to eat this."

His response was - not enough tax cuts...and that he doesn't think the spending will happen quickly enough. He was clueless about abstinence only...and he didn't even comment on the peanut butter. I think he regretted picking her as the first question!

There were some other good questions about banks and accountability, but I have to say there are a lot of people that are very uninformed out there - and I'm guessing that's mostly because the majority of people in attendance seemed to have gotten invites from Grassley's email list (which I'm certainly not on).

clonecone asked him if he thought the Republican Governors who lobbied against the stimulus should take a principled stand and refuse to accept any of the funds for their state.

Grassley said he would leave that choice up to them, but he did say that they should keep in mind their constituents.

And then we got to my question - which was something like this:

"Senator Grassley, we both know you represent Iowans in the Senate, but I'm not sure you're actually representing the interest of Iowans with your votes - for instance, you created the Medicare donut hole (and when Seniors fall into that hole, over 60% of them stop taking their medications altogether), so you voted against the interest of Seniors, you say you're concerned about spending, but you had no problem voting for over $1 trillion in funds for the war in Iraq. And yet, when it came to the stimulus package - which provides $2 billion for Iowa - including $800 million in flood relief (which people are still waiting for) - and which over 50% of voters support, you again voted against the interest of Iowans.

His response was to blather on about how Congress has appropriated $24 billion in flood relief in October and the city governments have to figure out how they want to spend it. He didn't look at me again - he wouldn't look at me while he -answered-ignored my question.

But the final question of the evening REALLY got under his skin!

A gentleman got up and asked why we didn't impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney when both clearly admitted that they participated in decisions that led to the torture of prisoners.

Grassley started putting on his coat as soon as this guy mentioned impeachment. He stomped out like a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum and didn't even let the guy finish talking.

I guess Grassley doesn't like people who ask tough questions. You'd think if you're going to be a Senator, you'd have thick enough skin to be able to deal with this kind of thing. I mean, if you can cast those votes - you should be able to answer for them.

  • I'm so disappointed.

    I guess it was easy for Senator Grassley to look reasonable when the White House had his party's back and he could be the least of the extremists (such as when he stood up for the SCHIP legislation in 2007).  Since January, though, he seems to be drifting more and more into the reactionary wing of his minority party.  

    He's an intelligent man, and if he has well-reasoned, intelligent reasons for voting against the stimulus I'd like to hear them.  But to re-spout the Republican talking points about slow-spending, too few tax cuts, and "porkulus" just insults my intelligence and his.

    As I said, disappointing...

    • it's all so confusing

      Republicans say spending won't help stimulate the economy, but they also say spending in the stimulus won't come fast enough to help the economy, and now Grassley says Republican governors should "think about their constituents" before declining the stimulus money--so I guess he understands that the spending is beneficial.

      • Exactly.

        And those conflicting messages are what makes his explanation so disingenuous.  At least give the American people credit for being able to understand the governing philosophy behind your vote.  Unless, of course, it's not a governing philosophy that's motivating your vote but other political considerations.  Then talk in sound bites, refuse to answer questions, and hope nobody notices.

  • Well, I highly doubt I was the first

    to say I disagreed with his stimulus vote. Of course, since the vast majority of people there seemed to be "invited" by his office, I'm guessing those attending these events are almost all Republicans who would tend to agree with him on the stimulus just because they share party values - which we've basically seen these past 4 weeks means - they vote the way Rush Limbaugh tells them to vote regardless of how bad it will be for the country.  

    • presumably self-selection

      is skewing the political makeup of the the typical Grassley audience.

      I would imagine that most people don't even know about these events unless they are on Grassley's mailing list because they've supported him in the past.

      • I have written to Senator Grassley

        so I should be on any inclusive list that he keeps.  But I never get notice of his events.

        • maybe people who have donated

          to his campaigns or are registered Republicans are more likely to hear about the events.

  • monticello

    i can tell you that monticello had done it's work to get it's conservatives out. several were clutching mailed invitations to this town hall. the hostilities were overwhelming. i had to park close to the building where it was held as i took my mother with me, and i think they looked for me and then refused to acknowledge my hand waving in the air for the last half of the event, and he really tried hard not to see me; especially when others (including the press in the back of the room) started pointing to me when he started looking around for someone with a question.

    i had hoped to ask him that, since he had refused to support our security by vetoing SCHIP, refused to support his state by vetoing the jobs package that he had helped to craft, and had not signed on to the legislation to stop their automatic pay raises, and since i was forced to work approximately 80% fewer hours in the past year than i have in the last 5 just because of the economy, would he mind sharing some of his raise with me; unfortunately my purple coat may have convinced him that i was the one driving the car with the SEIU for obama sticker on the back of it, and the obama stickers all over it, parked across the street.

    he also routinely called on retired men, and in spite of half the audience being women, he only called on three of them through the hour that he spent. i had a friend on the other side of the room who actually got to talk to his press secretary, and she knew that she had an urgent question; but i'd bet since her complexion matched "that one" they both knew better than to call on her.

    he was also extremely disrespectful of a sitting president. the fact that the crowd was more respectful than he was did not inspire empathy. and just to be clear, i don't think any national elected official should say anything about the president that was as disrespectful as he said today, repeatedly.

    the crowd was openly hostile, one "gent" was talking about "illegal ailens" and called them repeatedly "minorities" and used the terms interchangeably. many many of them seemed to have no other news source than rush and faux.

    so believe me, senator grassley will get to hear from me in a written letter; something that he insists on sending me whenever i email him no matter how many times i tell him not to write me back, please save our nation's resources for important work (but apparently he takes bragging rights from answering "every" constituent message all these years, and not answering me would ruin that record. OH VANITY!!)

    i said on my way out a number of times that he refused to call on women, i wondered what his issue was with women.

    so it is really absolutely NO WONDER that no one said they objected to him voting for the stimulus pkg.  

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