Rep. Glenn “Talking Points” Thompson has been avoiding public interaction with some of his constituents. But he must be feeling good after Thursday’s “town hall.” Rather — staged theater — he sat in a comfy chair in front of cameras dispensing platitudes to a carefully managed handful.
Compare state Sen. Jake Corman’s town hall a couple months ago.
Thompson’s audience was limited to 100 advance registrations. Corman required reservations and the room was full. But he had booked enough space that walk-ups were accommodated.
Thompson’s security was intimidating. All bags were searched. Everyone was wanded. Photo IDs and passes were checked. For Corman, a few police lingered. No IDs, no wands.
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At Thompson’s event, the premises was locked down a half-hour before the show. While we sat, we were briefed again about conduct and summary ejection for infractions — no signs, no clapping, no noise. Although occasionally boisterous, everyone in Corman’s audience managed to express themselves appropriately without any such regulation or threats.
Thompson limited questions to 30 seconds. Follow-up and discussion were discouraged as not fair to everyone else. Thompson took all the precious time saved to dispense long rambling answers. His inaccuracies and irrelevancies went unchallenged. Sen. Corman, in contrast, stood in front of the group, was well prepared, and engaged in sometimes spirited back and forth over a range of issues.
If Thompson ever crossed party lines to vote in the interest of his constituents (the health care debacle for example), he might be less fearful of his constituents.
Tobin Short, State College