Monday, January 28, 2008

Frank Wolf, The Ceremonial Congressman

Frank Wolf does love the ceremonial. From swearing-in firefighters to speaking on Martin Luther King day, our Congressman makes the rounds being seen in the community, doing ceremonial things. He is a master of the photo op and the three-line blurb. His skill in this area allows him to maintain a strong level of mild approval and name recognition. However, a rational look at both his record and his influence demonstrates that Frank Wolf is all style, and no substance. He is a ceremonial Congressman, with only the efficacy of a figurehead.

We could start with SCHIP. On this important issue, Frank Wolf was against it before he was for it. Like a figurehead, he only points in the direction other people turn him. As the dean of the Virginia delegation to Congress, it should be his responsibility to not only vote for SCHIP, but to convince his Virginia colleagues to do so as well. If it is good enough to vote for, it should be good enough to fight for. But Frank Wolf has done no fighting on behalf of Virginia's uninsured kids. His silence stands in sharp contrast with his claim to be one of the most important Republicans in Congress (he's a member of the Appropriations Committee, after all).

This raises the question of Frank Wolf's influence and effectiveness as a Representative. While Wolf has railed against tolls on the Greenway and tried to fund rail to Dulles, his record of success in these signature areas is remarkably slim. He took credit for adding money to the Dulles Rail project in 2007, when he also spoke out strongly against a tunnel, so surely he must also take blame for the near-collapse of the project today. For a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and a twenty-six year veteran of Congress to have a Federal agency controlled by his own party thwart the most important project in his district, without his advanced knowledge is a demonstration of irrelevance, not influence. It is as if the President of his own party knows that Frank Wolf has no real power, and can thus be ignored.

If Frank Wolf is not showing leadership in his caucus or among the Virginia delegation, and there is little recent evidence of any kind of influence he may wield over issues that are important to Loudoun and the 10th District, is he at least looking out for us in Congress?

On this final issue, the answer remains "no." In a time of economic uncertainty and mortgage catastrophe, Frank Wolf's attention has been elsewhere. Even as Congress works to mitigate the foreclosure crisis, Frank Wolf spend his time dealing with Connecticut Indian tribes. While our neighbors are losing their jobs, Frank Wolf is employing people in other states to look at porn. And while our troops have been fighting in Iraq, Frank Wolf claimed credit for a memorial to the Civil War.

On the Iraq issue, Wolf's lack of effectiveness is incredibly stark. He was a major sponsor of the legislation creating the Iraq Study Group, but when the time came to implement the Group's recommendations, Frank Wolf abandoned his own solution and voted against the recommendations.

So yes, Frank Wolf attends many ceremonies, memorials, celebrations and parades in Loudoun. But that is all he does - show up and be seen. We neither want nor need a ceremonial Congressman, but someone who will fight for the citizens of the 10th in Congress. We need a Congressperson who will help effect change in our Iraq policy, who will help fix our healthcare system, and who will take action on our behalf.

The 10th District should not stand on ceremony. The 10th District should elect Judy Feder.

(Crossposted from Leesburg Tomorrow.)

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