HAVE YOU HEARD about the latest outrage from Sen. Pat Toomey? Toomey, a federal official, is moving his Philadelphia office to a federal building. Yes, Toomey, under siege from his poor constituents who just want to communicate with him, is moving his office to U.S. Custom House at 200 Chestnut St.
This move by Toomey has further enraged the mobs that created the false meme that Toomey is somehow among the worst in Congress when it comes to responding to citizens. Among those still seething over the results of the November election, his new move has solidified his status as the ultimate coward. Their postings at Philly.com and other sites are incredibly angry.
What if Toomey held a town hall at a venue like the Constitution Center to answer questions on repealing Obamacare and other issues? I recommend that he do that, with one caveat that I'll lay out later. In fact, I think that all Republican representatives should hold town halls on the repealing of Obamacare. I said the same thing about Democrats in 2009 when Democrats were trying to pass Obamacare. Many declined and did tele-town halls to avoid the intensity of the debate.
In fact, I don't think you should be in any elective office if you don't do town halls. I think Toomey should do a town hall in Philadelphia, but he should be aided by some of the local pundits and media figures who are doing things such as counting the number of minutes since he last held a town hall in Philadelphia.
Let's say Toomey did a two-hour event. Would these critics help select people to ask questions and would they keep them to a minute, so that 60 people or so might get a chance? Would they advise Toomey on what he should do with those who continued past their allotted time or just tried to shout down and shut down the event?
I have experience with exactly this situation. A few years ago at the Art Museum, I did an event with Gov. Corbett that was free and open to the public. Like Toomey, Corbett was labeled as an elected official who did not respond to the public. The mob that showed up at the event did not want a dialogue, but instead proceeded to unfurl banners, march around and attempt to shut down the event.
I learned from the event that the Philadelphia Police's Civil Affairs cops were of no help. The head officer told me that to fulfill First Amendment requirements he was going to allow each protester to shout out whatever they wanted for a minute each. Is a Saul Alinsky clone teaching this perverted form of the First Amendment to these cops?
I predict that a Toomey town hall would be much worse. The mission of his opposition would be not to confront him with pointed questions, but rather to force him to leave the event. It would be an attempt to chase Toomey from the building. I would still do it, and keep talking for the full 120 minutes. I would offer it up as an indictment of what Philadelphia has become.
We've reached a point at which the definition of Toomey listening to his constituents means going against the things he ran on that helped him to win re-election last November. Many of my listeners voted for him because they trusted he would help to repeal and replace Obamacare. The clock is ticking on that for Toomey and local congressional Republicans such as Patrick Meehan, Ryan Costello and Brian Fitzpatrick.
As we await the potential town halls by local representatives, I do want to be helpful to the protesters and their Tuesdays with Toomey events. The U.S. Custom House where Toomey will soon be headquartered also houses local Homeland Security and Border Protection offices. These two entities, in addition to Toomey, should make for more convenient protesting.
Toomey is among the thoughtful, focused and decent people I've ever seen in public office. Those who haven't moved on from the election results and are playing out temper tantrums against him are childish, but dangerous. It's time for the local media to be the adults in the room.