Anybody But Roy Blunt Posted by: Jon Henke
on Thursday, January 19, 2006
For the most part, my reaction is "what Dale said". It was hard to tell whether the stiff, tightly-controlled Rep. Blunt conference call was a artifact of Blunts' (and his staffs') discomfort with bloggers, or just his style in general.
"I'm a Professional Politician, boys, and don't you forget it." Clearly, such a set-up would be wonderful for dealing with reporters. Blunt gives them access and a soundbite, but doesn't risk a difficult question or an unscripted off-message moment. That's fine, though, because reporters are not issued opinions; they take what they can get and report it. Bloggers, on the other hand, get to write things like "the sun will set in a blazing red sky to the east of Casablanca before I'd want Roy Blunt as Majority leader", which you'll never see in, for example, the Washington Post.
For my part, my impression was that the gist of Mr Blunt's message was:
"I'm a Professional Politician, boys, and don't you forget it."
I, for one, believe him. And that's a problem.
Radioblogger has the audio of the Blunt conference call. Glenn Reynolds notes that "this has probably been the most open leadership contest in history", though it's hard to tell whether this is a function of the candidates involved, the fissures in the GOP or the new instant-access/instant feedback media paradigm.
Congressman, in 2003 you turned your Congressional office into a "war room" for lobbyists from Pharma and other companies to lobby for passage of the Medicare bill - legislation that included a prescription drug package which resulted in huge windfalls for these companies, increased the size of government and will cost the taxpayers trillions. You did this in the wake of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from Pharma and other companies to you and your PAC.
As Majority Leader, do you plan on continuing the practice of allowing paid lobbyists to use your offices as their own on critical votes? If not, why not?
Perhaps you can figure out why they got bumped.
John Hawkins at RightWingNews felt unimpressed. And threatened...
Congressman Blunt cames across very cocky and sure that he will win. He also tossed in what I perceived as a subtle threat to the bloggers there. I'm paraphrasing here, but he basically said that, "You shouldn't do and I shouldn't do anything to minimize our ability to work together after this call."
The translation: Go light on me, buddy, or else I'll cut you out of the loop when I'm Majority Leader!
Blunt ended the call expressing his desire to do this again, and while they're still adjusting to the new media, he says we'll be critically important to him if/when he becomes Majority Leader.
Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters was diplomatic...
In contrast, Blunt came across as controlling and a bit defensve at finding himself at the cente of all this attention. By far the most structured of the three conference calls, Blunt's also was the shortest and the least informative. While there was no one phrase I could produce to give the sense in a nutshell, I felt welcomed by Blunt but at the same time it seemed that he was at least nonplussed at our interest in what Hugh would call inside baseball.
James Joyner at Outside The Beltway has what I think is a rather definitive brief...
I appreciate Mr. Blunt giving us his time, since he came in knowing it was a somewhat hostile audience. That said, he came across as somewhat arrogant, continually making the distinction between what outsiders think versus that of Members.
He also clearly does not "get" what the fuss is on the ethics scandals. Not only does he refuse to acknowledge that it is primarily one that taints Republicans but he seems to think it's an inside baseball issue that real people don't care about.
Most importantly, he honestly seems to think that the status quo is fine. He repeatedly asserted what a good job the current Congress has done and how much they've advanced the conservative agenda. There are very few conservatives outside the Congress who would agree with that statement.
I can certainly understand why there might be broad support for Rep. Blunt among his fellow Congressmen. He's probably quite an effective Majority Whip, and, as he pointed out, he knows how to count the votes. And in a position like Majority Leader, technical proficiency counts for much more than charisma with the bloggerati.
But I can't help but think that this misses the point. Republicans already played machtpolitik; they've gone the K Street Project route; they've had a House Majority Thug. If they replace DeLay with Blunt, they're just gambling that the electorate won't really care if business continues as usual.
That, I think, would be a losing bet.
UPDATE: I already have a slogan prepared for our campaign against Rep. Blunt becoming Majority Leader: SMOKE BLUNT!
Unfortunately, the tendency of bloggers to ask hard questions and give unfiltered opinion afterwards probably means that this type of Q&A question will be a one time event. Politicians dont like tough interviews afterall, which is why they would rather do softball interviews on CNN and Fox News.
Good on all of you for being straightfoward while you had the chance, though.
As expected. Roy Blunt (R-KSTREET) is inevitably DeLay. (hah!) Bad pun intended.
He falls right in line with the former majority leader’s school of strong arm.
You’re gunna fall in line, see… You’re gunna do what da bossman tells ya, see… and you’re gunna say what he wants you to say….if ya’ know what’s goodforya. If you don’t,… you’ll be swimmin’ whida fishes…
Seriously, though. Kudos to all who ask the tough questions.
Might some of the problems with your perception of him be related to the idea that Blunt knew he was playing to a hostile crowd? The ’sphere generated noise over Shadegg, and the corresponding lack of positive noise over Blunt has not exactly been a secret, after all.
Frankly, I’m not too excited about the guy, myself, but I’m trying to get some added perspective, here; Might these have affected his presentation?