We attended Senator Grassley’s town hall in Muscatine Thursday afternoon. It was hardly a great study in give and take. Questions were asked. Answers were given. Seldom did the answers really deal with the questions asked.
The room was packed and it was obvious that the number one question on everyone’s mind was the Supreme Court nomination to replace Antonin Scalia. Rather than answer this question directly and any other question later on, Grassley went into a short lecture on how true process worked. Obama nominates, his committee considers, maybe fast maybe slowly. We could have gotten more straight answers from the old magic 8 ball.
The first several questions were about Scalia’s replacement with every answer being evasive. Grassley tried to push blame for the divide on Obama, on Chuck Shumer and on history itself each in turn being some culprit in a plot to make this vacancy nearly impossible to fill. Then he called a halt to questions about Scalia’s replacement.
One young woman was so frustrated with Grassley’s refusal to answer questions directly she tried to break in and redirect the conversation. Grassley would have none of that and the young lady was given a short treatise on manners. Her friends came to her defense and Grassley simply stopped his answer and called on someone else.
Question after question was met with redirection to what appeared to be a non-answer that Grassley had rehearsed. TPP, human caused climate change, social security, medicare. It made no difference; Grassley had no intention of answering anything directly. It was a masterful job in misdirection performed by someone well schooled in his craft. The non-answers were meant to appear to be answers that no one could refute because he committed to nothing.
Afterwards we were talking in the car. I told my wife that Grassley could have saved us all a lot of time by buying a TV ad that went like this:
Voiceover: Here is a message from Senator Chuck Grassley:
Image on the screen: right hand extends, middle finger goes up. Hold for 25 seconds. Fade to black.
And it could have covered all 99 counties at once.