Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waxman Was Worried (Abbreviated Account)

In some ways, I am a confrontational person. I have often been the type who wants to strike before stricken. The 2012 election gave me the opportunity to confront Henry Waxman, the former chairman of the Oversight Committee, one of the must pugnacious Congressman.

 My love-hate relationship with the recently reelected Congressman began in Palos Verdes. He looked so tall on the YouTube clips, fumbling over basic details while marking up legislation that even a tax attorney would find too taxing to take in. Actually, he was the shortest guy in the room.

 By then, I had long set up my first political blog “Waxman Watch”, which got some decent traffic, considering the season. I had also been informing voters throughout the district to “End the Reign of Waxman the Taxman”. After I gave him a slip with his menacing mug next to his record of inconsistent leadership, Waxman grimaced. He was going to meet his match in this election.

 Later, I attended my first LA-area Neighborhood Council, in Venice. Interesting, to say the least. With thirteen seats up for reelection, fifty-four people lined up to make their pitch. I was waiting for Waxman, who found me first. “My blogger”, he quipped, shaking my hand. I had his attention.

The next week, I attended an advertised “Open Forum,” at the Jewish Community Center of the Beach Cities.

At the outset of the open question-and-answer forum, the two candidates outlined their platforms and proposals in two 10-minute speeches. Waxman was watching me the whole time while his opponent was speaking.

 Shortly after they started takikng questions from the audience, the moderator called on me. Mr. Waxman interrupted.

"This is a Republican blogger who has been writing nasty attacks about me," he said, quivering.

With that, the Rabbi in charge told me to sit down since I was not a member of the community.

I protested that as a voter and a constituent in the district, I had every right to participate. I could not believe what was happening.

At the back of the synagogue, I confronted the rabbi again, who was apparently protecting his preferred candidate. I was upset and confused. I told him the meeting was for members of the community. He said we would talk about it later.

Sitting down, I was passed over twice more. One constituent tapped me on the shoulder: “So they’re not going to let you speak?”

That was the impression that I received. I addressed Mr. Waxman before the entire audience:

“I thought this was an open forum? What are you afraid of, Mr. Waxman? That your record will come out? This is disgraceful."

As I was leaving, the rabbi approached me. He informed me that he had seen my blog. He was worried about personal attacks. I responded that everything I have shared is from public records and research.

The rabbi kept telling me to “calm down.” He charged me with “you're being hostile”, then told me to leave.

I felt so at peace, but still I was surprised that free speech really wasn’t so free. I knew that voters were learning about the Congressman's record.

Slightly shaken for being thrown out of a synagogue, I called my father to tell him what happened. Nonchalantly, he replied: “Why, that’s a feather in your cap. Now you have something else that you can write about for your blog.”

Waxman’s challenger informed me that whenever someone “googled” “Henry Waxman”, they would find my blog.

Waxman should have let me speak. His interruption exposed more than any interrogation.

I scared a Congressman, and I liked it!

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