Thursday at the House Oil Party...

I got a chance to speak with Representative Jeff Flake (AZ-06) briefly at the House Oil Party; what follows is not a precise transcript, but the general gist.This is, by the way, somewhere that cameras were allowed.{*}

Rep Flake is finding this fun, as is about 1/3rd of the GOP conference (Rep. Blunt later estimated on the floor that it was more like half at this point, but they may be using slightly different criteria): they’re getting in about a dozen or so Congressmen every day, and the interactive, British House of Commons feel to it appeals to him. This is a bit more informal than the usual round of House debates; they can talk to people, have people talk back, get a real dialogue going. From what I saw of the speeches (baby), his colleagues feel the same way; they’re relaxed and enjoying themselves. Given that they’re all taking time out from their vacations, this is probably all for the best.The general plan is to keep the pressure up: the House GOP knows that the Democrats are in a bad spot on this, particularly since Flake estimates about a third of them will vote for drilling on an up-or-down vote. Hence Pelosi’s adamant stance against putting this to said vote. While the participants of the House Oil Party may be enjoying the opportunity to speak directly to constituents, they aren’t happy campers about why they have to do it in a darkened room with no electronic equipment running. They’re prepared to continue on until there’s a vote. When asked about the quote-unquote Gang of 10, Rep. Flake was very… diplomatic about the needs for coalitions. But he thinks that we can get more, and that we’ll get more.

When asked what message he wanted to make absolutely sure got sent out from all of this, he immediately replied “CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE.” The number is: 202-224-3121: I would add that the list of Representatives found here would provide you with some extra people to get in touch with.

What did I think of him, personally? He came across as a nice guy and the baby liked him. And the more I see of this recess gambit, the more I like it. There is some real, honest-to-God civics going on, here. It’s a shame that it takes an outright crisis to provoke this sort of thing, because the Republic would be much improved if you knew that during August you could stop by the Capitol and actually see a Congressman talking to you in a room without microphones are camera. The Democrats are missing one heck of a chance here.

Moe Lane

{*}Yes, my child is trying to consume one of his own shoes. Compared to some of the things that he tries to eat, a mere shoe is nothing.