In the August 26th debate held in Glens Falls, New York 20th Congressional District incumbent Scott Murphy (D) faced off with challenger Colonel Chris Gibson (R). The forum lasted one hour and videos are available in segments. In this blog post, I will be concentrating on the opening statements.
Colonel Gibson went first. He began by thanking Mr. Murphy for being willing to come out and debate the issues, noting it "says a lot about his character." In my view, it says even more about Murphy's character that he repeatedly was unable to schedule the town hall style debates open to the public as requested by Colonel Gibson on July 25th. Murphy finally agreed to this closed forum at the end of August which did not allow constituents to be present unless they held membership in the sponsoring group or the mainstream media. It also says a lot about Murphy's character that unlike last year when he had numerous well publicized town hall events throughout the district, he instead seems to have occasional last minute town hall events like one on August 23rd where he is alleged to have been unable to talk in complete sentences at times.
Colonel Gibson focused on the very real problems facing the American people and his would be constituents. He talked about lack of jobs, an increase in the number of people filing for unemployment, anemic GDP growth, and an underperforming economy. Gibson noted that a hostile and uncertain business environment is the reason why we are not creating new jobs yet Congress' response seems to be a series of tax, borrow, and spend stimulus bills that have failed. Gibson was not ideological in his statement; he clearly laid the blame at the feet of both Republicans and Democrats. He talked about the 13 trillion in debt, and the lack of a federal budget for the first time since 1974. Without a budget, you can't govern, Gibson warned. And even worse, he noted that no budget means no job growth. Gibson pointed out the stark reality that there is no plan for fiscal responsibility in Washington and a crisis in principled leadership.
Gibson brought up being a product of a working class family and how they had to have a budget and could not spend beyond their means. He talked about discussions with small businesses and employees who have described the impediments to growth: taxation, regulation, and health care costs. He described the major points of his campaign: growing the private sector economy, balancing the budget, protecting freedoms, targetted tax and regulatory relief, repealing and replacing the health care bill, balancing the federal budget and reducing federal spending.
When Scott Murphy was running for Congress the first time and appeared in a series of debates with challenger Jim Tedisco, I recall remarking to others that he came across like the character Eddie Haskell. Murphy's opening remarks basically reminded me of that comparison once again. His very first sentence was so much like Eddie Haskell's famous "Good morning Mrs. Cleaver, that's a lovely dress you're wearing." But he then presented himself as a sweet and innocent type who understands the struggles faced by businesses, wants fiscal responsibility, wants to solve problems, opposes ideological squabbles, and that he has the experience to do this. The problem is that like Eddie Haskell, we the viewers know Murphy's record. And it's far different from his presentation.
Murphy gave broad generalities instead of stating in detail how he felt his time in Washington has attempted to solve the serious problems facing his constituents. Knowing Murphy's record, it sounded to me like the stereotypical used car salesman trying to sell a clunker. Murphy is trying to sell a used product to the people: himself. He can create a pretty package. He can buff and wax the outside as much as he wants. But looking under the hood, you see a pathetic voting record that simply does not work. Therefore, he has to begin by avoiding any details about his record because it's not pretty. It neither fits the Constitution nor the leanings of the district Murphy represents.
Until the end, Murphy's statement was as if he does not have a voting record, as if we are back to early 2009 and he is running for the first time again. Rather than trying to seriously address the very harsh realities Colonel Gibson described, Mr. Murphy instead talked about his experience prior to serving in Congress. I'll grant that he did make a very quick reference to the economy and getting people back to work. Obviously he had to show at least some recognition of the problems Americans face. Overall, it appeared to me as if he merely dusted off opening remarks from his debates with Tedisco last year and added a couple of sentences to reference his incumbency.
Rather than putting the primary focus on the people as Gibson did, Murphy talked about himself. It's a bit arrogant considering how he has sat in Congress while the economy has stagnated. He could have at least empathized with the people.
Incumbent Murphy also raised a silly issue about ideology and partisanship. Gibson blamed both parties for the problems in his opening statement so the issue of ideology and partisanship is a bit of a dodge. However, I will raise the point that Murphy is a member of the party that has controlled Congress since January 2007 and we have not seen a serious improvement in the economy under their watch and certainly not in Murphy's time.
Murphy touted his experience as a businessman, talking about budgets and how people have to make hard choices. Yet his record of rubber stamping Cap and Trade, ObamaCare, the DISCLOSE Act, the second "stimulus" (which is "paid for" by reducing food stamps four years into the future!) and verbal support of the first FAILED "stimulus" and Card Check, paint a very different picture. A businessman must know about truth in advertising. In terms of experience, the constituents of NY's 20th Congressional District have experienced Scott Murphy. As one of them, it's not an experience I want to have for another two years.