Monday, February 12, 2007

Just Another Day on Capitol Hill - When is a Progressive Not a Progressive?

Meeting with Gabby Giffords staff is always a bit stressful for me. Today after a nice impromptu stand up meeting with representative Grijalva I sauntered off to the Cannon Bldg. I ran into Daniel just outside Giffords' doorway. He always seems uncomfortable when he sees me. I gave him the shoes tagged with the name of a five year old girl killed in Iraq (from the Walk in Their Shoes Action) At first I thought he was going to take them out of the room and down the hall with him, but when I began asking him about scheduling and how to schedule if we didnt have email (wireless here wasn't working, but it is up and running now) and perhaps because he is so new to DC and doesn't have all the smooth, canned responses down pat, he sometimes comes across more aggressively or defensively than he probably intends to.... so as we were bickering about whether I could make an appointment, Maura, Giffords' Chief of Staff, once again came out of her office (as she did when the radio crew from Bisbee asked to be at the UFPJ Lobby Day appointments) -- I did get the impression that Maura understood the iconic nature of the shoes. She said Gabby would keep them in her office. Then we moved on to why GG hasn't signed on to HR 508 -- I knew she would be the toughest nut to crack, so to speak, because she is not a real progressive although she campaigned as one. I brought up the fact that she hasn't joined the CPC (Congressional Progressive Caucus) and was countered with the fact she hasn't joined any caucuses. The CPC is almost a third of the Dems in the House and is the most diverse Caucus the House has. I'd love to see lots of requests to sign on to HR 508 come in to the AZ District 8 office. I've been told that the District is primarily Republican, that she represents others besides progressives, that she can't support a troop withdrawal over 6 months because it isn't reasonable. We've done our research. It always honks me off when I'm told that my positions are not based in reason. Do these people understand how insulting that is? Inaccurate too. I was also told GG has always opposed the war. Of course in the Hillary mode of speak that GG has down pat "always" translates to "since the tide has turned." Being against the "Surge" (read escalation) means nothing -- especially when the person holding these beliefs was brought into office on the peace mandate vote last autumn. We need Reps to have the balls / ovaries to stand up and do what they were elected to do.

I don't want to occupy GG's office but she may leave us no choice. We have to press these politicians to put politics aside and do what the people, our country, and the world want use to do. End the war NOW. Try diplomacy. De-escalate. De-fund the war.

I went to several other Reps offices (all members of the Progressive Caucus who haven't signed on to HR508) and dropped off info about CPC's position on Iraq that mirrors the concerns addressed in HR 508, met with a few Reps' staffers who handle Iraq issues for the various Reps, and got feedback on why they were not supporting HR508.

Then it was time for lunch, a quick bout of trying to get in the Capitol again to watch from the Gallery (wasn't worth it once we got there).

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