Bob Ellis is inflamed because someone in either Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's office or the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce or both dropped the PR ball and issued an open invitiation to a public meeting, then recanted and declared the Congresswoman would be speaking only to the RC Young Professionals Group. Then Pat Powers GOES APE with seven posts in one day saying the same thing.
Now we know what this is about. Bob Ellis wants a chance for his Tea Party friends to play out their faux-patriotic fantasies and storm some room with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin or Tim Johnson in it. They want to hyperventilate and pretend they're taking America back (from whom? other Americans?).
It is worth noting that SHS and Senator Tim Johnson held a series of public meetings on health care at the end of June and beginning of July. PP was apparently blinded by the glow of his Caps Lock key to notice the article in his local paper about a lunch and discussion SHS had with 120 of Pat's fellow Brookings residents on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, it is also worth noting that, like broken clocks, even Bob Ellis and Pat Powers manage to be correct on occasion. If the Madison Chamber of Commerce had issued an invitation for everyone to come hear Senator John Thune speak, then rescinded that invitation and said the meeting was for Chamber members only, I'd have blown some blog spitballs, too. (I'd have been blowing bigger spitballs at the Chamber of Commerce for charging $20 for lunch... and for charging Chamber members less than the rest of us to get in! Darned elitists!)
With Congress taking action on so many important issues, it's all the more important that our Congressional delegation use the August recess to get around the state and interact with as many constituents as possible. All three of our members of Congress can make a reasonable case that, even without town hall meetings, they are still making plenty of effort to communicate with South Dakotans. But the Rapid City public disinvitation makes SHS look bad, and Ellis and Powers are entitled to blow their spitballs.
Then again, Thune was in Madison Thursday, and he didn't hold a town hall meeting. When he dropped in to give his pal DeLon Mork a pat on the back for another job well done raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, Thune probably didn't take any questions on health coverage reform or anything else political. Am I outraged? No. Had I been at the Dairy Queen Thursday when Thune came in for his Blizzard, I wouldn't have raised my voice or tried to co-opt the event to serve my political purposes. There is a time and a place for everything. Politicians are obliged to be open to public, but they are also entitled to attend special events like Miracle Treat Day and give attention to groups like the Young Professionals or the Red Hatters or whomever else without undue distraction.
South Dakota's right-wing bloggissariat will have its fun with the public disinvitation snafu, and I won't try too hard to defend the Rapid City Chamber or SHS's office or whoever else caused it. Remember, I'm as interested in getting a chance to ask SHS (and Johnson and Thune) some pointed questions about health coverage reform and other issues as anyone else.
But it's also important to see this snafu for what it is: a bureaucratic failure to communicate between two offices, not a nefarious plot to hide from one's constituents.
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