As you know, I listen to talk radio because I hate myself.
Maybe, my friends tell me, I do it because I love to be outraged. I don’t think that’s true; I think, instead, that small bursts of outrage give me moments of focus and clarity that I might not otherwise have in a given day (right now, as I write this, I am also thinking about how cool dinosaurs are and the ‘online war’ being waged against Google in defense of online anonymity and which font to use for a design task I need to finish today and Words With Friends), and those moments are precious moments. Luckily, it is easy to become angry at basically every person involved in talk radio. Do you know how, sometimes, you’ll go to the movies and there will be a really excitable guy who starts yelling bits of wisdom like “Don’t Go Into the Murder Mansion!” or “Kiss Her!” at the characters? I manage to maintain my decorum at a movie, but radio is a Bridge Too Far.
Yesterday, my local talk station – WILK – spoke with my Congressman, Representative Lou Barletta. I should note here that Barletta is a Republican and that I am not, but that his party affiliation has, at least in this instance, precious little to do with why I want to grab him by his shoulders and shake him vigorously. It has to do with something more fundamental to the process of representative government than party affiliation – the access of the constituency to its legislators.
During his first eight months in office, Barletta has held four town hall meetings, but has ceased to do so in recent months in favor of restricted-access meetings. When questioned about the decision, he claims that he is being “stalked” by MoveOn.org, which is apparently some sort of serial killer or child-stealing monster that consists, based on the Representative’s comments, of any person that does not like or agree with him. He also intermittently cites the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in tandem with this, as if to leave the impression that he can’t meet with the people he represents because the second he does, a Democrat with a gun will leap out of the underbrush and start eating babies (it is, in fact, a baby-eating gun, not the normal kind). Barletta is also eager to let us all know that he is the only lawmaker who is accused of this sort of tone-deaf, elitist behavior. This is because all of his critics are MoveOn.org operatives who are spreading vicious lies about him and stealing senior citizens’ medication.
Lou Barletta is hiding from you because he wants to protect you. Lou Barletta cares.
Look, if you are an elected public official, then it is part of your job to make yourself available to your constituency. This is a representative democracy, and at its most basic level that means that you have an obligation to communicate with everybody you represent. You’re not obligated to do what they say, but at least pretend to give a damn. Then everyone will shut up and let you go back to lighting giant barrels of money on fire or giving those money barrels to Wall Street or whatever.
Really, though, that all pales in comparison to this revelation: while listening to this radio interview yesterday, I learned that Lou Barletta refers to himself in the third person. Who even does that? I mean, Rickey Henderson? The Queen of England? Doctor Doom? Can we trust a man who refers to himself in the third person?