Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Curious Case of Bart Gordon

Bart Gordon, a liberal Democrat, has represented the Sixth Congressional District of Tennessee since 1985, when Al Gore moved up from representing this district in Congress to representing the entire state of Tennessee in the United States Senate.

In the subsequent 24 years, Gordon has distinguished himself primarily as the fastest man in Congress. And Gordon literally IS the fastest man in Congress, having won the Congressional three mile road race for a record 18 consecutive years. Each year his time has been under 6 minutes a mile, which is nothing to sneeze at, when you consider Gordon is now almost 60 years old.

Beyond that one accomplishment, and the fact that he routinely wins with no opposition in a largely Republican district, Gordon has accomplished very little other than support the traditional left wing liberal agenda in Congress.

Perhaps because his seat has been perceived as so safe, Mr. Gordon has been able to hone his running skills, and focus on other aspects of his life besides politics. Now comes Dave Evans, a resident of the Sixth Congressional District, and a Major General in the Army Reserve with a distinguished record of service, and a man who intends to secure the Republican nomination and give Gordon his first serious challenge in 2010 since Steve Gill almost knocked him off in 1994.

Call it hubris or overconfidence, Gordon has apparently given Evans a gift wrapped issue on which to run.

Though he serves on no Congressional Committee that has anything to do with Europe, Gordon has apparently joined his Tennessee Democrat pal John Tanner on a 9 day jaunt through Europe, from the 14th of this month to the 22nd. Arguably Tanner has reason to make this trip--He's President of the NATO Assembly of Parliamentarians, an organization that does appear to have some official function, however minimal. Gordon, however, is another matter.

Evans has jumped on this European junket issue, and so far, Gordon has failed to give an explanation as to why the taxpayers should be paying for his trip.

To be accurate, no one really has been able to confirm whether or not Gordon actually went on the trip. The Washington Post reported on February 12 that he was scheduled to attend, and a February 16 press release from the Tennessee State Republican Party criticized Gordon for being on the trip, but, curiously, Gordon's office refuses to confirm or deny whether he actually is in Europe now.

A series of volunteers have phoned Bart Gordon's Washington D.C. office asking for simple confirmation of Gordon's participation of the trip, and the hapless staffers responding to the questions have stonewalled their responses, saying they are not authorized to disclose where he is.

Such stonewalling, of course, plays right into Evans' game plan of criticizing Gordon for being aloof and out of touch. Plus, we might add, there is probably some sort of Congressional or Federal rule, law, or regulation which requires a Congressman's office to publicly disclose where he or she is when conducting official business at taxpayers' expense.

Gordon's website happily touts every speech or public appearance he makes in the district that promotes his own visibility. Oddly, no public statement has been forthcoming to date from his office even confirming whether he is or is not currently in Europe on "taxpayer funded business."

Evans is playing it smart by asking for a public statement from Gordon that addresses two issues:

1. Is he travelling to Europe now at taxpayers' expense ?

2. If he is in Europe, what possible justification does he have for wasting taxpayers' money to fly him over there and pay for his meals and lodging ?

You would think that, given the current economic "crisis" and the urgency with which the Democrats rushed through the monstrous $787 billion "stimulus" bill, that some local Tennessee newspapers, radio stations, or television stations might do a little investigative journalism and simply ask Bart Gordon if he actually is in Europe, and if he is, why is he in Europe ?

Perhaps it's ennui or just plain ol laziness, but to date, none of these intrepid muckrakers have risen to the occasion.

Given Newschannel 5's functioning of late as a virtual extension of the Barack Obama Communications Department, that's not much of a surprise. Perhaps some adventurous small local newspaper will hop on the story. More likely, it's a challenge that the inquisitive bloggers of Tennessee will take up.

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