Grassroots politics: Meet the congressman with a protest | Arkansas Blog

Grassroots politics: Meet the congressman with a protest

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WHO DOESNT NEED A LITTLE PROTEST NOW AND THEN: Greetings for Arkansas congressmen on tap.
  • WHO DOESN'T NEED A LITTLE PROTEST NOW AND THEN: Greetings for Arkansas congressmen on tap.
Well, this could be an interesting political season.

A media advisory this morning from U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton's office says credentialing will be required for media planning to attend the congressman's free barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Dardanelle at which he's expected to formally announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate.

I haven't yet received a response from Cotton's office to my question about whether rank-and-file guests will be required to produce credentials — photo ID, birth certificate, Green Card — to gain admittance to the barbecue line.

UPDATE: Cotton staff says all guests named "Max Brantley" will be required to have credentials. I'm gratified to see evidence of a sense of humor in that office.

The occasion took me back in memory to the Wade Rathke days at ACORN. Reba Whipple, Elena Hanggi and other stalwarts from ACORN would turn up in a bank board room or other rarified place noisily asking for consideration of the interests of working class people. Over time, their protests had incremental positive impact, even as it made the organization a dirty word with the comforted class and stirred some sympathetic backlash for the fatcats who were embarrassed.

So, I thought, what if a busload of poor people showed up for Cotton's barbecue wearing I DONT PICK COTTON T-shirts and took a few plates of his free grub, paid for by corporate interests anxious to spend even less on the likes of the protesters than they already do? It's a hard call. Good theater. But it might stir some sympathy for Cotton.

Then came news of a sure-enough demonstration.

The Democratic Party promises to have a welcoming party at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport at 2 p.m. today when U.S. Reps. Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford return home for the congressional recess.

Concerned Arkansas residents will attempt to greet Congressmen Griffin and Crawford at Little Rock National Airport as Congressmen Griffin and Crawford return home for their month long paid vacation after obstructing solutions in Congress and failing to solve problems in Washington.

Media theater certainly. Complaints and comments are in order for both congressmen. Griffin particularly insulates himself from opposing viewpoints. He won't even send one constituent, a certain media outlet, copies of his news releases, despite multiple requests. But mannerly Arkansans might be inclined to a little sympathy if he's publicly called down. Griffin has also played the War Room game long enough to be equipped with a gimmick of his own — soft drinks for the hot protesters, maybe? Some talking points, for sure. Though, in the current climate, probably not his favorite talking point: "Build the Keystone XL Pipeline. What could go wrong?"

We'll see.

UPDATE: The two Republican congressmen weren't on the plane a group of young Democrats had gathered to meet. But, said a spokesman, the August recess lies ahead. There will be other opportunities.

SPEAKING OF FOOD STAMPS (AND THE FARM BILL): The Mark Pryor campaign is keeping the pressure up on Tom Cotton. Pryor, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on agriculture, is meeting with farmers in Stutgart today and his campaign is emphasizing Cotton's lonely vote against the farm bill.

“Arkansans know that agriculture is the foundation of our economy, accounting for one out of every six jobs in our state, and that makes Tom Cotton’s opposition to the Farm Bill all the more outrageous,” said Jeff Weaver, Mark Pryor for Senate campaign manager. “While Senator Pryor has been a champion for Arkansas farmers, working across the aisle to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill, Tom Cotton stood against Arkansas farm families and voted it down.”

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