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From the Left Hand Corner: The Republican recess

What I’d planned to write about this week was the Republican recess. It doesn’t affect us in this area directly since we don’t have a Republican congressperson traveling our district this month. We have the luxury of Congressman Rick Nolan. He’s ever on the move, in and out of the vast district, fast-paced, but following his own instincts as to the needs of his constituents, not the dictates of his national party.

Hopefully, not all Republicans towed the mark, but before Republicans bailed out of Washington for the summer recess, they were duly directed to follow the dictates of a 31-page, single-spaced document, spelling out how they were to act during just about every waking hour of their recess time.

It is another big example of how staged, formatted and lock step the Republican agenda has become. The document leaked before the recess began, so it probably wasn’t as effective as it might have been, since some Republican representatives would want to disavow or distance themselves from its dictates.

Nevertheless, others are heeding its terms, so we are hearing and seeing constant repetition of the mantra phrases.

The theme of the House Republican Conference planning kit for August 2013 appears to be attacking Washington, the very Washington they are an integral part of and helped create.

The document instructs the Republican congressperson and staff on how to schedule, set up and stage just about every imaginable type of event and media opportunity in their district. It lays out procedures for organizing and conducting just about every conceivable type of forum, tour and meeting.

Authors refer to the document as a “playbook to help you plan for weeks of events and supporting messaging tactics.” They claim the document, “will help you reinforce our message of fighting Washington.” (The same Washington where Republican lobbyists outnumber representatives several times over, and House Republicans constitute the majority of their Legislative branch.)

They are told to write op-ed features for their local newspaper, headlining that they are “Fighting Washington for You.” They are even given an 11-paragraph op-ed to use, emphasizing the mantras to dismantle “ObamaCare” and “make America energy independent” with frequently repeated usage of “Fighting Washington for You.”

The repeated “messages” throughout the document for most all events include “lower health care costs,” but “bolster research” (isn’t that contradiction?) then “rein in red tape” and “stopping waste and fixing broken government.”

As with most Republican pronouncements on those broad subjects, it’s all in generality, and no specifics are provided.

Although energy, agriculture, employment and education events and tours are all labeled and referenced in non-partisan fashion, Republican congresspeople are instructed to schedule at facilities of friendly (Republican) control.

For example, when doing a hospital or health care facility tour, the member is told to check how the administrator feels about “ObamaCare” and “confirm the messaging theme in advance of the event.” After such facility event, the congressperson is directed to “submit a heath care op-ed and weave the story of the hospital tour into the overall narrative about the ‘detriments of Obamacare.’”

Not too surprisingly, the Republican members are directed to partner with the Chamber of Commerce when selecting location and people to feature in their business events.

For Obamacare Media Tours, the directions are even more controlled. Initially, “Confirm the theme prior to the event, and make sure that the participants will be 100 percent on message.” (Note: "While they do not have to be Republicans, they need to be able to discuss the negative effects of Obamacare on their employees.”)

Maybe we don’t need those Republican Congresspeople. Maybe we could save money and trouble by following AGCO’s lead and experiment with substituting robots. If an AGCO robot can replace three AGCO workers, how many Republican congresspeople could a robot replace, since they are all being trained to sing the same phrases.

And so it goes ...