For Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), it all started long before meeting with his constituents, during an interview that went far from well.
Blum had agreed to be interviewed by Josh Scheinblum with KCRG-TV9 at the Dubuque Dream Center after the reporter struggled for weeks to get an answer, the New York Daily News reports. But the interview was abruptly cut short when a discussion about Blum's upcoming town hall meeting seemed to irritate the Republican.
Blum hadn't held any town halls since January, and Scheinblum saw an opportunity to ask Blum why his staff was pre-screening participants to Monday's meeting. Blum replied that he didn't “want people from outside of the First District” to attend. After all, he continued, “I don’t represent them. They should go talk to their representatives at their town hall meetings.”
That wasn't enough for Scheinblum. The reporter then added, “I think some would make the case that ... the decisions that you make impact all Iowans, so shouldn’t all Iowans have a voice at the table or at least have the option to?”
Blum, clearly irritated, answered that he doesn't represent all Iowans.
“I represent the First District of Iowa,” he said. “That’d be like saying, ‘Shouldn’t I be able to — even though I live in Dubuque — go vote in Iowa City during the election because I’d like to go vote in that district instead.’”
His triggered response was enough to give Scheinblum the excellent idea for a follow-up that would clearly be too much for the legislator.
“Would you still take donations from a Republican in Iowa City?” he asked.
Instead of carrying on, Blum proceeded to get up and rip off his lapel mic without answering the question, saying Scheinblum was “going to sit here and just badger” him.
“Unbelievable,” Blum added.
The kids that stood behind Blum during the interview at his request then proceeded to file out behind him.
During the town hall following the House of Representatives' vote on the American Health Care Act, Blum had no time for tantrums. Instead, he had to be on the receiving end of some very angry remarks.
“You voted for this bill in a rush. There were no committee hearings,” one woman told Blum. “The Congressional Budget Office didn’t score this bill ... what was the rush?”
Admitting that the process wasn't good, Blum responded by saying “[t]here should be hearings.” Still, he contended, “[t]he bill is better than what we have [under the Affordable Care Act]. It’s heading in the right direction.” This remark was received with boos from the audience.
When another attendee asked the congressman to address her fears that certain pre-existing conditions would no longer be covered, he rebutted her by saying that her statement wasn't “true.” And when asked why he stormed out of the interview earlier, Blum claimed to have been “ambushed.”
Later, a constituent added: “If you can’t answer the tough questions of a reporter, why should we trust you?”
If there's a silver lining to all this mess it is that, at least, Blum didn't storm out of his own town hall. Still, pretending that passing laws is a game and that lawmakers can forego discussing important issues concerning some bills is no joke.
It's good to see a lawmaker being grilled on being so careless about policies that directly affect the entire country.
Thumbnail and banner image credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore