Representative Suzanne Bonamici (left) fielding a question from a constituent at her town hall meeting at Yamhill on October 20. (photo/Randy Stapilus)
The period after a federal government shutdown and near-default, both fomented by extremists, might seem to be a time when cooler heads might dominate the discussion and raise the questions. The situation seems to be more mixed at congressional town hall meetings, however: tin foil was amply in appearance.
At this afternoon's, hosted by Representative Suzanne Bonamici at the high school at Yamhill, there were conspiracy theory audience questions about trade agreements, the Affordable Care Act, Sharia Law, child sterilization and concerns from one woman who could not understand why President Obama has not been impeached, given all the high crimes and misdemeanors he's committed. She thought.
Bonamici, who has been getting increasingly adept at handling the town halls, had to comfort at one point: "Nobody's trying to take your guns away from you."
She's gotten more diplomatic but also maybe a little more direct in dealing with nonsense. And after one long such stream from one Newberg man on Obamacare (well, the country really would be a terrifying place if half of what he contended really was true), she coolly remarked, "There's a lot of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act."
Bonamici's approach seems lawyerly (understandable, given her profession), but also determined to keep the heat turned down. Given plenty of opportunity to blast the House Republicans over the shutdown, she passed, and said she's trying to stay civil and not encourage conflict. She acknowledged the circumstances don't allow for that in any easy way. Often on the floor, she said, "I've heard, 'We need to stand and fight. This is an epic battle. We must not surrender.' ... To set it up like a battlefield is really counterproductive to working together."
She acknowledged being an optimist, predicting in earlier town halls several months back that the talked-about shutdown wouldn't actually happen. She said she doesn't think they'll happen again early next year ... but she wrapped that more in the sense of hoping it wouldn't.
We'll know by the time her spring round of town halls comes around.