I've grown increasingly baffled over recent weeks by Larry Kissell's mysterious behavior on the health care reform bill.
His stubborn opposition to the pending legislation makes no policy sense, and it makes no political sense. His reported failure to even return calls of active volunteers and fundraising supporters from 2008 (both in and out of his district) who are now distressed by his intransigent opposition to reform is...politically foolish, let us say. Even if you have a well-reasoned position which you do not intend to change, you do not simply ignore your supporters. You call, you explain, you limit the political damage and try to retain their support for other issues and other days.
Yesterday I was told that he had refused an invitation to meet with President Obama on this topic. That's the sitting president from his own party. Even if he treated it as a mere courtesy call, a member of Congress simply does not blow off his president's invitation in that manner, if he hopes to have any long-term influence on how policy is made in the areas he views as important to his own constituents and priorities.
What IS going on with Kissell?
I still don't know, but one source who might know told me yesterday that his chief of staff appears to be controlling access to Kissell and directing the information which reaches him in a manner to downplay the hole into which he is digging himself. That's certainly an explanation which could help produce the publicly observed patterns, especially with a first-term member of Congress who is still very new to political work in general and Washington in particular.
With about 24 hours left to go before the expected showdown House vote on reform, I'm left coming back to an old question. Does anyone have a direct contact route to Rep. Kissell? Family? Mutual close friend? Someone whose call he could be expected to actually take?
If so, please, this is the last chance to reach him: Use it now. After tomorrow, it will likely be too late to undo the damage that is being done--possibly to our nation, probably to other Democratic candidates in the 8th District, and certainly to Larry Kissell himself.