Tom listened today in Big Flats

I attended today’s listening meeting in Big Flats.  There were about sixty people there filling the room.  The audience was predominately older white males; there were about ten women.  The meeting lasted a little less than an hour. Tom passed out the President’s proposed resolution and a copy of a Washington Post article on Syria, gave a short speech, and invited the audience to ask questions.  Here is a summary of the speakers called on by Reed’s aide Joe Sempolinski.

  1. What is our strategic interest? (Speaker identified with Tea Party)
  2. Focus on domestic issues. (Chesapeake Energy employee)
  3. Administration has no policy.
  4. Why go alone?
  5. Focus on Iran.
  6. What is the end to this?
  7. Will President Obama act regardless.
  8. President was rash in drawing line.
  9. President was rash.
  10. Is there a path that won’t lead to war?
  11. What about other countries?
  12. What about other countries? (first of two women to speak)
  13. Will this lead to proliferation of chemical weapons?
  14. Could non-military sanctions be used instead of weapons? (one of two women to speak)
  15. What would happen if we do nothing?
  16. President Obama lacks credibility; we need a new president.
  17. Gave a list of scandals.
  18. Congress should avoid politics and give the President a broad mandate. (my view)
  19. What does the administration say about their strategy?
  20. Administration has no credibility.
  21. What if the President acts without approval of Congress?

At the end Joe called for a vote by show of hands on the draft resolution.  The audience favored a no vote by four to one.  However, no alternative proposal was offered.

Tom repeated his belief that he considers the situation complex and dangerous. He fears escalation and unintended consequences. He feels we should focus on domestic issues. On Syria he said:

  1. Assad government is irresponsible.
  2. unacceptable use of chemical weapons.
  3. no clear right and wrong in the two factions: government and rebels.
  4. civil war.
  5. Obama Administration irresponsibility led to this dilemma.

Tom said we should act to limit the spread of chemical weapons, he got in another dig at the administration, and he opposed a rush to escalation.  He noted that the President’s draft resolution might be altered before an expected vote.  He said he would be guided by the views of his constituents in deciding how to cast his vote.

(the above is based on notes I took during the meeting)


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14 Responses to Tom listened today in Big Flats

  1. Nancy Padak says:

    thanks for this. Very helpful!


  2. pystew says:

    It will be interesting now that John Boehner has announced that he is in favor of the President’s plan.


  3. Anne says:

    I saw the Boehner announcement, too, and wondered how that would affect Tom’s vote. I do wish he’d give up these pointless and stupid digs at the administration. It wastes everyone’s time, and solves no problems.


  4. whungerford says:

    Tom said he would be guided by his constituent’s views. It would have been interesting to ask him if he expected his vote to be subject to party discipline or not, but no one did.


  5. whungerford says:

    My complete statement, No. 18 above, was this: “I agree (with Tom) that the situation is complex and dangerous and requires a response. Congress can’t micro-manage this. Congress should put politics aside and give the President as broad a mandate as they can. Congress had better work full time in Washington, D.C. this month as so much other public business has been left undone.” Tom nodded as he did for all who spoke and recognized the last point agreeing that Congress had much work left to do.


  6. Deb Meeker says:

    Thank you William for your report. As I read the list of question/ statements, it seems that about one third were either off topic, Obama bashing, or both. Is the Big Flats area right leaning? If so, that could account for some of Tom Reed’s comfort in blaming the President outwardly, although he also managed a detrimental comment in his latest newsletter to all of NY23rd.

    On reading one of the links you provided, it became clear that the suffering of Syrians is either not of apparent concern to many Americans, or they just don’t want “Obama to win” in terms of leading.. Too many murky twists and turns in Syrian culture and political situations for the average American to follow (certainly myself), and make an educated “guess” as to what policy would be best for all concerned. Many believe it sounds too much like a Bush era “run-up” to another disasterous intervention.

    While I recoil from any idea of forceful military action, there are certainly humanitarian needs, as in Turkey, where a million or more refugees have fled . Perhaps your opinion makes the most sense ultimately. We elected the President to lead, and Congress should let him.


  7. whungerford says:

    Yes, many speakers had no use for the President or his administration. Many opposed any military moves as dangerous, harmful, likely ineffective, or too expensive in lives and money. It would be wrong to assume that the opinions expressed are necessarily representative of Tom’s constituents.

    The “Worldviews” article was distributed by Tom at the meeting.


  8. Bob Mcgill says:

    I was at the Geneva meeting today—–there were no “stupid digs” by Tom. In fact Tom avoided commenting on the digs from the people, and almost everyone there had a dig or two about Obama. Of about 40 people 2 or 3 supported taking action with a show of hands.


  9. whungerford says:

    Thanks for your report Bob. Besides the vote, do you have anything else to say about the meeting? Was there any discussion of alternative responses to Syria’s use of chemical weapons? Was Speaker Boehner’s decision to support the President mentioned?


  10. Bob Mcgill says:

    the discussion very much covered all the options. People were very much against getting involved in any fashion. Only protecting American soil and citizens would anyone there approve the use of military action of any sort.


  11. Bob Mcgill says:

    oooops actually two wanted the US to do something. One person has family in Syria and another has been in the region quite a lot, but in my mind, could not justify his position.


  12. bob mcgill says:

    While I recoil from any idea of forceful military action, there are certainly humanitarian needs, as in Turkey, where a million or more refugees have fled .—-FEED EM TODAY, FIGHT EM TOMORROW


  13. Deb Meeker says:

    Bob, had you said “Arm them today fight them tomorrow”, I would understand you comment. However, suggesting that to feed people, regardless of their country of origin, will threaten national security, sounds to me, a bit heartless.


  14. Pingback: Syrian use of chemical weapons revisited | New NY 23rd

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