Friday, May 16, 2008

Lampson Goes Back to High School

I wonder what it is like, really, to have been a teacher in Texas public schools, and then to move on to eventually become elected a US congressman, but then to back to a Texas high school campus to talk to a standing room only crowd of 120 high school students?

Nick Lampson, my congressman, did exactly that today.

I wonder if he noticed any similarities or differences between the students he taught those many years ago in Beaumont, and the ones at the school I now teach.

Frankly I was amazed at the level of questions that the students were throwing at him. Well, the first one was a no-brainer question that many of the audience were there to find out about. The question: “Uh . . . who you gonna vote for?”

I was sitting next to one of Nick’s staffers and commented to him “first one out of the chute has to be that one”, and he kidded me that I had prepped the kids. Not so. This was their show organized and run by them.

Nick told the students that he is going to stay neutral for now. That has a conclusion of mine for awhile now, but I nevertheless provided him with some data on where he should be leaning – in the same direction as his district. Later he mentioned that he has been involved in meetings with both camps.

He fielded a question from a student about what kinds of legislation, in what areas, were there the most partisan conflicts being fought. Nick answered that the areas were very wide-ranging and cited the partisanship that resulted when the GI Bill was not presented in committee where Republicans could affix their amendments, and that this had angered them so much that they created stalls on all kinds of legislation.

Interestingly, Nick did not mention that on this bill, HR 2642, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, a bill that passed in the House by a vote of 256 – 166, with 32 Republicans joining Democrats, Nick voted No. Yes, sorry to say that Nick Lampson joined 159 Republicans and six other Democrats and voted against our troops.

Even most of the Blue Dogs voted for this bill once they got what they wanted. I am guessing that it was the fact that the bill had no plan to pay for the extra benefits being given to our veterans, and then was redrawn to soak the rich with a 0.5% tax increase in order to pay for this.

There are lots of single people in CD 22 who make over 500 grand a year, or couples who pull down a million. They have votes AND checkbooks. Besides, they had a big majority to get the bill passed, so why not vote against it and again give the Republicans a headache as they fruitlessly try to paint Nick Lampson as a Pelosi Liberal?

But I think the question of the day went to a young lady who asked Nick what his position was on the strife in northern Uganda. “Oh, no”, said the Lampson staffer. This was very clearly something that Nick, or anyone I know (including me), know anything about. She indicated that she had brought with her some information she could let him have, and asked him to contact the Secretary of State about this.

It wasn’t too long after this that Nick’s handlers started pointing to their watches, indicating that he had better leave . . . .now . . . in order to make their next meeting. Two students passed out information on being an intern in DC, and just before leaving Nick was asked about McCain’s Iraq comments, Nick shared his opinion on how the War in Iraq is not fighting the War on Terror, that it was a sectarian war with our troops caught in the middle. That the war against Al-Qaeda is better fought in other countries with Special Forces.

Then there were the obligatory poses for photos with the congressman, and then they were out the door.

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