Friday, August 24, 2007

How One Republican Congressman is Spending His Summer Vacation


Americans Against Escalation of the War in Iraq hosted a Town Hall Meeting with Representative Tom Davis (R-VA, and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform) and Rand Beers (former Counterterrorism Adviser in the Bush administration, 2002-03) on Thursday, August 23, 2007.

Unfortunately, the meeting turned out to be something of a personal platform for the representative of the organization that was hosting the Town Hall (a young veteran of the war in Iraq), who tightly controlled the event, spoke more than anyone else at the event, chose which of the audience's questions the Congressman was asked, and allowed Davis a fast and easy face-off with his constituents (and an even faster getaway).

Videos of the meeting:

Part 1
In this segment: Comments by Sister Marie Lucey, Religious-Associate Director of the Leadership Conference of Women; Bob Petrusak, Progressive Democrats of America, Virginia Chapter, introduces Congressman Tom Davis.

Part 2
In this segment, comments by Congressman Tom Davis.

Part 3
In this segment: Comments by Iraq war veteran John Bruhns.

Part 4
In this segment: Iraq war veteran John Bruhns introduces Rand Beers, former Counterterrorism Adviser in the Bush administration, 2002-03, and Beers speaks.

Part 5
In this segment, John Bruhn reads a question from the audience: "Can you say there is progress, when the surge, designed to create political space, hasn't made any political progress? This is the bloodiest summer since the surge began; this isn't progress." Both Congressman Tom Davis and Rand Beers respond.

Part 6
In this segment, the questioning starts going south, by John Bruhn becoming confused, mixing up an audience member's question and replacing it with one of his own, about U.S. policy in Anbar province of giving amnesty to insurgents and the Pentagon's loss of 190,000 weapons in Iraq. Both Congressman Tom Davis and Rand Beers respond.

Part 7
In this segment, the meeting continues going south with John Bruhns offers a critique of Tom Davis' comments, and then Bruhns gives his own opinion on the question. Bruhns then asks another question from the audience: "How has the cost of the Iraq occupation affected services such as infrastructure, transportation and human services in your district?"

Part 8
In this segment, Bruhns asks this question from someone in the audience: "Every combat brigade in the army and marine corps is committed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Where will units come from if we are attacked again or suffer another catastrophe on American soil?" Congressman Tom Davis and Rand Beers respond.

Part 9
In this segment, Bruhns reads a question from one of the panelists, Bob Petrusak: "Why can't Congress pressure the administration to follow the Iraq Study Group's recommendations and seriously engage Iran and Syria?" Congressman Tom Davis and Rand Beers respond. John Bruhns thanks Tom Davis profusely. Members of the audience express their outrage over Bruhns' control over the Town Hall meeting and over the focus of the discussion about Iraq, and Bruhns' control over which questions were asked of Congressman Davis.

The position of the host group, Americans Against the Escalation of the War in Iraq, is "the safe redeployment of the troops." That should leave room for many different points of view. However, Bruhns (in his comments in part 3) takes options off the table, seemingly leaving only a draft.

Rhetorically, mystifyingly, throughout the meeting Bruhns expresses his failure to understand what's going on and what we're doing in Iraq. And yet, like the Commander-in-Chief whose call to arms he followed into battle, Bruhns stubbornly held to a point of view that allowed no contradiction. Bruhns' influence over the meeting allowed for the continued false and deceptive Bush/neoconservative narrative about the reasons for the invasion and occupation. That limits policy considerations to an American occupation of Iraq without end or "cut and run."

No comments: