Forget Politico, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News,the Hill, or others, all of which had a guy or gal covering the town hall meeting of Representative Tom MacArthur, Republican of New Jersey.
There as a constituent, I can assure you there is no more objective, accurate, and thorough report of the event than that of Jim Newell of Slate, who cogently summarized
MacArthur fielded many fair, brutal questions throughout the night, between the insults or extended speeches. (Some residents came prepared with elaborate statements, noting the many cameras in the room.) Most of the questions, appropriately, were about health care, with a healthy dose of Russia thrown in the mix. MacArthur didn’t have much to say about President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, instead just saying that he hoped the House and Senate intelligence committees could resolve their investigations soon. When asked whether it was time for a special prosecutor, he said, “No, not yet,” to a chorus of boos. But it was a health care night.
And so it was. Still, for my money the best question came from a local named Arnold Burnett (ph.), who began (at nearly the end of the video below, less than halfway in to the meeting) by talking about Donald Trump's tax returns and continued with
You voted seven times to block Congress from forcinghim to relese his tax returns and you refused to sign a letter signed by many of your colleagues requiring him to release his tax returns. Why had you not demanded that Trump release the returns, especially in light of his connections to Russia and why would you not co-sponsor the Presidential Transparency Act (HR 305) that would require Trump to make his tax returns public?
You''ve heard this before- you said you were in Waretown (the site of an earlier MacArthur town hall meeting, at the other end of his district), I do believe the President should release his tax returns. He said he would numerous times; I think he should.
An attendee helpfully yelled out "why did you vote against it," to which the "moderate" (as heralded throughout the traditional media) replied "because I don't think it's Congress' role to force that." After a few moments of silence other than random shouts, he added "that's my answer."
Of course, MacArthur believes the President "should" release his tax returns. It's the easy and safe position, representing as he does a swing district. The "swingers" (politically, that is) will agree with him that it would be nice for the returns to come out. Trump supporters- practically every Republican- won't hold it against him when he actually is doing his bit to block Congress from requiring it.
Trump's continued overwhelming support from Republicans thus is at the root of the unwillingness to impose reasoned behavior from the President. GOP members of Congress- including MacArthur, with the American Health Care Act- have enabled the President to continue on his not-so-merry way. They have little or nothing to fear from their popular base.
And so few Republicans have openly acknowledged the disaster unfolding before their eyes and will not confront the ever-enveloping evil. Tom MacArthurr represents the rare moderate congressional district held by a Republican. By getting him to admit "I don't think it's Congress' role to force that," one voter in New Jersey (with help from another) forced one congressman to admit that there is practically nothing for which he will stand up to the twittering President.