Mark Zaccaria on Two Guys Named Jim

Last night I had the chance to attend two quite different public meetings.
I began at the newly reemerging Warwick Mall where Rhode Island Second District Congressman James Langevin was holding a hastily arranged public event. Although it was billed as a ‘Town Hall Meeting’ the actual ground rules Rep. Langevin established for the affair were different than that name might imply.
The fifteen or so voters who turned out were supplemented by perhaps 20 or more junior high school students who were dispatched by their teachers on the promise of extra credit. Before the formal proceedings, Mr. Langevin’s staff asked the attendees to sign up for one-on-one sessions of five minutes each with their Representative. These private exchanges were to take place near the main location of the meeting but away from observation and reaction by the whole body of assembled constituents.
The congressman began the formalities by making a rambling statement about the good economic times our state is entering and the fortitude shown by the President in Libya during recent days. The gentleman’s remarks were largely inaudible as, despite reminders, he kept inching the microphone away from its effective range. The impact on the students was swift and predictable. Cell phones at the ready they whispered and texted with one another until the distant chatter ended. Mr. Langevin has been a public figure all of his adult life. I cannot accept that he has not learned how to manage a microphone. It was intentional.
For me, though, the nadir of the meeting was reached when the opening statement was over. Several of the voters in the audience asked that they, too, be allowed to hear the questions that their peers and neighbors had for the Congressman. Mr. Langevin yielded the microphone to a staffer who drowned out that line of questioning by reiterating the ground rules for the evening in a very audible voice, while his boss made his way out of the enclosure and away from the brouhaha.
Whatever you think the rights of the voters and taxpayers might have been, you would have been most disappointed by the impact all this had on the young students. They were regaled with a demonstration of the unwillingness of a public official to even respond to those he is supposed to serve. To the kids it was one more example of why texting is the real world and government is just some impenetrable Kabuki dance. They simply shrugged it off, had their school papers signed for the credit, and repaired to the mall for some group socializing. What a wasted opportunity.
My next stop last night was Providence College where I attended a presentation by video provocateur, James O’Keefe.
Mr. O’Keefe has been branded a conservative guerrilla for the series of undercover tapings he’s made of public officials doing their work on the taxpayer’s dime. You’ve probably seen his exposé on Acorn staffers all across the country advising a pimp and prostitute on how to structure their tax filings to cover the fact that they employ underage, undocumented sex workers in their patently unlawful enterprise. If not, you may have caught his outing of Planned Parenthood staffers in a string of that company’s offices or his dinner with an NPR Fundraiser who, along with the CEO, was then forced to step down.
O’Keefe explained that his real objective was to prompt American News Media into doing this kind of investigative reporting for themselves. He went to lengths to express his outrage that as a college student without any real funding he had to do this on his own. He pointed up the vastly superior resources and network connections that traditional media outlets possess and was indignant that they seemed to be giving publicly funded organizations a pass on their blatant misuse of the taxpayer money they receive.
Unlike the other Jim, Mr. O’Keefe made his point passionately, compellingly, and without prepared notes. He then stayed to answer all questions from the audience and remained in the room long afterward to pose with attendees and hear their take on his past exploits and future plans.
The juxtaposition of the two Jims could not have been more stark.
Mr. Langevin, our Jim, was plodding through a set piece unconcerned – and maybe unaware – of the damage he was dully inflicting on everyone who was there. Mr. O’Keefe, on the other hand, swept in from his home in New Jersey and his work all over the country. He came at the request of the PC Students who’d contacted him to make the appearance. He was energized by the opportunity to connect with real Americans and show them the example of how anyone with a video camera can scoop the atherosclerotic mainstream media if they have the courage and energy to do so.
I applauded O’Keefe, along with everyone else in the room of 100 or so who listened to him. After that performance, as I thought about Our Jim, I was in mourning for the poor service we receive from him at this most critical moment in the history of both our state and nation.
Mark Zaccaria is a resident of North Kingstown, RI, where he operates a small business. He was the Republican candidate for Congress in Rhode Island’s 2nd District in 2010.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

The reason Langevin gets away without massive disaproval is that in a small state with only two Reps,he’s been lucky enough to have been alongside two such pieces of sh*t as Kennedy and Cicilline.Not hard to look good around them.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Rhode Island, where as bad as you can be will still get you elected as long as you’re not looking as bad as the next guy.

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

You got half way there again, joe. It’s not because of who he’s alongside. It’s because of who he runs against.
OldTimeLefty

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

OTL-no,I’m not “halfway” there.Mark Zaccaria was a damned good candidate,but people don’t like to deal with the truth.
Langevin mouths platitudes.
He tries not to make anyone uncomfortable,but that doesn’t alter reality.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Maybe Justin needs to rename the post labeled “Engaged Citizen” to something like “Loser’s Lament”. This Zaccaria may be a good candidate as Bernstein alleges. I guess the old adage that practice makes perfect may fit here. It is unseemly though for a loser such as this (what was the percentage the Congressman won by) to make these sort of attacks. What’s troubling though is his endorsement of this person who secretly videotapes those he believes are part of the vast leftwing conspiracy and then heavily edits the results to produce fodder for right wing media outlets. Seriously if you had to choose who you could trust would it be the Jim who lies his way into capturing political opponents on tape or our soft talking long serving Congressman who was offering private interviews with constituents rather than encouraging the deafening bombast of a belligerent loser.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Sometimes it’s not who a candidate is but rather what they represent to people that gets them elected. Just sayin’.

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

Phil is dead on with that comment. Also the congressman should be given credit for having a town hall meeting, he was/is friends with the Arizona rep who got shot at the one she gave. Seems like one on ones could be seen as a safety precaution.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

That makes no sense, Swazool. Why would Congressmen stop holding public appearances because of some lone nut in Arizona? Why would Langevin be comfortable speaking but not taking questions if there were a safety concern? And how would meeting with him privately alleviate such a concern? Seems to me like it would exacerbate the risk.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Swaz, just give it a rest. You don’t have to protect this guy 24/7. Just admit, he’s running scared of being backed into a corner.

Andrew
Editor
10 years ago

So let me see if I can boil down the bulk of the feedback on Mark Zaccaria’s Engaged Citizen post to a few bullet points…
1. Regardless of the substance of their comments, people who are active in politics should not criticize sitting politicians.
2. 100% of all video shot during a video investigation has be shown for information that is shown to be legitimate. (I’ve actually not been keeping current on the O’Keefe investigations. What are people claiming he did not show that contradicts what he did?)
3. A politician delivering a speech to the public in a public area is no security risk, but a politician answering questions from the public in a public area is a major securtiy risk, and can never again be allowed.
Is that about right?

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

Andrew, are you kidding with those questions?
It is the point of most blogs to discuss and or criticize sitting politicians, but you have got to be in la la land if you don’t think this post is grasping as straws, written by a guy who got handed his hat at the polls. To complain that you can’t hear a guy who physically can’t hold the mic close enough because of his handicap is moronic at best. But let’s just say the audio was bad, maybe that is why he wanted to meet with people one on one. I actually didn’t have a hard time hearing him, and I am on an iPad with small speakers.
I really couldn’t care about Langevin, but I can smell sour grapes through the screen.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Andrew 1.) No. It’s extreme to suggest that anyone who is active politically cannot criticize sitting politicians. It happens all the time. 2′) This is from Media Matters; Discussing the ACORN videos created by O’Keefe and fellow conservative activist Hannah Giles, O’Keefe falsely claimed that the video campaign was a “nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation” implicating many ACORN employees. But in at least six of the eight heavily edited videos produced by O’Keefe and Giles and distributed by Andrew Breitbart, either the activists did not clearly tell the ACORN employees that they were planning to engage in child prostitution; or the ACORN employees refused to help them or apparently deliberately misled them; or ACORN employees contacted the police following their visit. Law enforcement officials criticize O’Keefe’s “highly selective editing of reality.” Three separate investigations cleared ACORN workers of any criminal wrongdoing, and a December 22, 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service stated that California and Maryland criminal laws may have been violated by the undisclosed taping done by O’Keefe. California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. pointed out that the videotapes were “severely edited by O’Keefe.” In a statement, Brown said, “The evidence illustrates … that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor.” Likewise, a March 1 New York Daily News article reported that “a law enforcement source” said of O’Keefe and Giles: “They edited the tape to meet their agenda.” A March 2 New York Post article, headlined “ACORN set up by vidiots: DA,” reported of O’Keefe and Giles’ ACORN tapes: “Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said.” Breitbart and O’Keefe withheld exculpatory LA ACORN video for… Read more »

riborn
riborn
10 years ago

It’s amazing how many of JL’s supporters use his physical disabilities to either praise him or defend him.
His disability/wheelchair/can’t hold the microphone (take your pick) is irrelevant, and should not be used as either “extra credit” or an excuse.
The town hall format is commonly known to include public responses by the pol to questions from the audience. Weak politicians who aren’t up to the job they’ve been elected to do avoid questions that have not been submitted and approved ahead of the session, so that the pol can have staff prepare the answers.
He’s a weak representative and whoever runs against him needs to engage him on the substantive issues, challenge him again and again, b/c we know JL will avoid the public forums that his handlers can’t control for him.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

swazool-What has the Arizona incident got to do with anything in this context?
It wasn’t even politically motivated.
BTW Langevin is in a wheelchair because he WAS shot years ago,albeit accidentally.
There’s no reason to not cross a street because someone got hit by a car ther previously.Living scared isn’t healthy.
In any event,Langevin probably doesn’t arouse dangerous anger in even his harshest critics.
I’m in his district-I’m sorry I can’t vote against Cicilline who is real piece of filth-a dishonest lying litttle turd.

Swazool
Swazool
10 years ago

I am in Cicilline’s district. Didn’t vote for him.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

Good.
Leaving aside his political positions,he is an obnoxious individual.He talks over people in a debate or Q&A setting with a breathy little nonstop rant.
He lies straightfaced,a sure sign of a sociopath.Sociopaths aren’t necessarily violent at all-many of them are consummate con artists,insurance salesmen,and politicians.

Monique
Editor
10 years ago

“A politician delivering a speech to the public in a public area is no security risk, but a politician answering questions from the public in a public area is a major securtiy risk, and can never again be allowed.”
… er, yes.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Leave it to Rhode Island liberals to invent the ‘disability card.’ My guess is even Langevin would disapprove of his ball washers using his disability to defend him. Apparently liberals have also redefined a Town Hall meeting. If you read the Cicilline story about his Town Hall meeting in East Providence, it sounds like the same setup.

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

Phil has provided reason, the Zachistas diatribes.
Andrew, you are a one eyed political commentator – very bad depth perception!
OldTimeLefty

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Where the hell is Zaccaria? He wrote the post these comments are attached to. If he can’t answer criticism on a half assed blog then what would he be doing in Langevin’s position?
Why half assed?
Andrew does this all the time. He throws out his comments with questions that are not questions and then goes turtle when he gets a response. Monique, well ..
… er, yes.
Posted by Monique at March 27, 2011 9:27 PM

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Lets play the same game as Bella and Swaz: ‘maybe’ he doesn’t feel the need to address illegitimate criticism. Maybe it’s because only two people are complaining. Maybe his arthritis is acting up and he can’t type right now. Maybe…

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

Max
You can count me with Swazool and Bella.
No word from Mr. Transparent?

OldTimeLefty
10 years ago

Zach is a hack.
That’s why he got the sack.
OldTimeLefty

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

It’s easy to see from the tone and lack of content in the comments why Zaccaria would not bother to reply to them. Nobody took Beavis and Butthead seriously either, and it seems that the Lefties of AR have fixed on them as role models.

Phil
Phil
10 years ago

The would-be Congressman will not respond to constituents. Is not the content of his post about the lack of response from his Congressmen? Do as I say? Bobn I see you posted your on topic comments at 6:45 AM. Do you wake like this? Bad night? Do you write before coffee or after? What about those Bruins?

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