In Defense of Congressman Duffy
by Dino Corvino on July 24th, 2012
Again, I am chasing the brilliant Robert Mentzer, but that is just how it goes sometimes. Really smart people point to something, and then later slower people like myself get a chance to say something about it.
Have we as a culture lost our damn minds? Has the media driven us off the rails in some absurdist play that only leads to us bleeding on our neighbor’s lawn after an argument about the Pro Bowl versus the All Star game? What is the inherent bit of anything that Rep. Sean Duffy did wrong in this video?
Let’s be clear, we all know I am a Democrat. Huge flaming big government, tax and spend, take away your guns (not that part so much), liberal. I am not really any of those things, save for being a Democrat, but I am aware that this is the internet, and you get to say what you like.
I have met Rep. Duffy, and the truth is, I like the guy. As a guy, a dad, and a husband, he seems like a remarkably cool guy. As a politician, he is a good campaigner. As a person voting on public policy, I disagree with him 100 percent of the time. But, he was cool when I met him, and cool goes a long way. Ron Johnson, not cool, by the way. And Herb Kohl sort of weirds me out.
But, are we kidding with the reaction to the video? A man, Rep. Duffy, leaves his office, another man is in the parking lot with a third person and a video camera. Rep. Duffy answers a question, then gets in his car. The man in the parking lot dramatically yells at the man in the car, and the other guy records it, and they put it up on the internet.
And then the voices that oppose Rep. Duffy use this video as some sort of narrative point. Look, my party, the Democratic Party, really needs to reevaluate strategy if they think that this is the kind of thing that will get us the future.
This looks like TMZ and some poor celebrity trapped outside of a parked car or something.
Rep. Duffy did nothing wrong. He left his office, answered a question, and got in his car. Maybe he had a doctor’s appointment, or one of his kids had a swim meet. We have no idea. But, to somehow infer that a man getting in his car is running away from the question is a false inference. The question was asked AFTER Duffy was in the car.
Was this intentional and poor theatrical stage setting? Did this man have any desire to get the question asked and answered? If he did, it is not like it is impossible to make an appointment, and ask Rep. Duffy or his staff.
But, that is not what this guy did. And somehow this all turns into Congressman-Duffy-runs-away-from-a-question.
Now today I see in the Wausau Daily Herald, the nice Vietnam Vet has taken the opportunity to write a column. He wrote in his column, “I wish to respond to the charges that Duffy and his staff have made against me and other constituents who have, time and again, been unable to get answers from him on the big questions facing our economy.”
Now, I am a pretty plugged-in sort of guy, and honestly I have not found a comment from Congressman Duffy about a guy in his parking lot and another guy with a video camera.
Wayne goes on to write, “I would like to know why Duffy believes people should be able to live on $7.25 an hour when he admits to struggling on his $174,000-a-year salary. If you do the math, a minimum wage worker earning $7.25 an hour working a 40-hour week makes $15,080 a year before taxes. What family can survive on that?”
I would respond, Wayne that is not what you asked him. I would also again say, it is entirely possible to make an appointment like an adult, and ask him then.
But, Wayne, that is not what you did. You showed up in a parking lot with a video camera. This is different from making an appointment.
Then Wayne, you or your friend released this video tape to the public.
I get it. You wanted to prove a point, create a narrative, and all of the rest. And you did. You gave activists video to use, now we will see a commercial with Duffy driving away from a Vietnam Vet. I am sure that shows up.
But, what we do not get out of this is an actual discussion of the minimum wage in this country. We do not get a discussion about the economics of raising the minimum wage or the public policy involved in doing that. Let’s just agree that this had nothing to do with learning about the minimum wage.
Because Wayne, if you wanted to ask Congressman Duffy something, you could have made an appointment.
We can all make an appointment.