New Hampshire Views: In 2nd District, the talk is less than enlightening
Whenever exasperation with Congress’s utter dysfunctionality forces people to seek solace in the knowledge that, yes, this, too, shall pass, it’s hard for them not to wonder, “Okay, but how soon?”
Not very, judging from the early rustlings in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.
The good news is that district voters will have choices. Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster, a freshman, already has two Republicans vying for the right to oppose her: Gary Lambert, a former state senator from Nashua; and Marlinda Garcia, a member of the New Hampshire House from Salem.
Because both potential opponents have political experience and appear to be accomplished professionally – Lambert is a lawyer, Garcia an executive in a cybersecurity firm – both would seem to offer some promise for engaging in a lively exchange of ideas about policy and philosophy.
Certainly, the potential is there. But Garcia’s recent announcement of her candidacy raised serious doubts about what 2nd District voters can look forward to in terms of an enlightening debate.
“I’m running because I believe America is the last great hope on Earth, and that this is a nation worth fighting for, and I believe I have the skill set and can benefit from a new generation of ideas and help bring America back on the right path again,” Garcia said, thereby raising the question about whether her “skill set” includes the ability to express herself coherently or in anything but tired cliches.
Speaking of which, she made sure to let voters know that one of her chief concerns is that a majority of Americans are, for the first time, “less confident that their children and grandchildren can achieve the American dream.”
But the Lambert campaign apparently will not permit its candidate to be out-cliched.
Here’s a sampling of the response to Garcia’s candidacy offered by Ethan Zorfas, Lambert’s campaign consultant:
“Col. Lambert has served his country in the Marine Corps for over 34 years and wants to bring real leadership to Washington. As a small business owner, husband and father of two daughters, Gary is running to represent the 2nd District because Congresswoman Kuster and political insiders have abandoned the middle class.”
So, for those who simply can’t choose between a candidate who passionately believes that America is worth fighting for and one who would never abandon the middle class because he’s a proud husband and father, there’s always the incumbent, right?
Bad news there, too. Here’s what Marc Brumer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had to say: “The right wing has found yet another reliable rubber stamp who will carry on Bill O’Brien’s Tea Party torch that caused so much damage to families in New Hampshire.”
O’Brien is the former New Hampshire House speaker whose controversial tenure has little do with the issues facing Congress, but who has become the go-to reference for any New Hampshire Democrat who wishes to invoke the specter of Very Bad Things without engaging in the thought process.
For example, here’s what Harrell Kirstein, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, had to say about the race: “With two of O’Brien’s loyal rubber stamps seeking the Republican nomination, New Hampshire voters should brace themselves for Garcia and Lambert’s inevitable reckless race to pander to the same extreme right fringe of the Republican Party that forced the federal government shutdown.”
“Rubber stamp,” “right wing” and “Bill O’Brien” are apparently the three essential ingredients in the recipe shared by New Hampshire Democrats for pretending to have something to say about Republican opponents.
What all of these pseudo-statements share, of course, is a speak-by-number approach that touches prescribed topics and manages to say nothing at all.
Were it not for the fact that the nation faces many serious problems that the current Congress is either failing to address or actually making worse, such fatuity might be shrugged off as political rhetoric at its emptiest level. But with Washington in desperate need of people who can engage with each other — a very different exercise than mouthing meaningless slogans — the race in the 2nd District has gotten off to an inauspicious start.
At the very least, these candidates and their mouthpieces might treat voters as intelligent human beings.