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Shrinking Congressman

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 12:48

Here we go again. Representative Lee Zeldin is out front in his support of President Trump, dismissing as phony a serious impeachment inquiry based on credible allegations.

If there is one skill Mr. Zeldin has mastered it is disingenuousness. It is one thing to be partisan. It is another to be so cut off from a sense of right and wrong that he and other outspoken Trump faithful are willing to risk their life’s work and reputation when the facts, at a minimum, demand caution. For Mr. Zeldin there is no middle ground. From the earliest days of the 2016 campaign, Trump was his man, and there has been no going back.

Mr. Zeldin has lashed himself to the mast of the 45th president’s ship come hell or high water. He has never been interested in reflecting the views of a district with wildly diverse opinions. His so-called public appearances have been only in front of friendly audiences, and any give and take with constituents is rarely conducted in the open. 

The congressman’s most recent question and answer session was at the annual legislative breakfast of the Suffolk American Legion, an organization that would not have welcomed dissident voices had they tried to be heard. In August, Mr. Zeldin spoke at a Patchogue Chamber of Commerce meeting. His mobile office hours and “Coffee With the Congressman” sessions are carefully managed by his staff. Visits to street fairs and other public events are never announced in advance, nor is it obvious how someone might sign up for “Lunch With Lee”; the last held anywhere near here was at Digger’s Ales and Eats in Riverhead. Nor does he or his staff make any noticeable attempt to reach out to the district’s large Spanish-speaking population. Make note, too, that since he went to Washington he has been on cable television far more than he has been in East Hampton Town.

Had Mr. Zeldin made it out of the air-conditioned comfort of his jet-black sport-utility vehicle and actually taken the pulse of constituents regarding the president’s conduct, he might have a more measured tone. In repeating the White House’s talking points in defense of the president word for word, he makes it clear he values party loyalty over duty to country. A real representative of the divergent views of this district would have reserved judgment until fully reviewing the inquiry’s facts and testimony. Had Mr. Zeldin actually been out and about he might know this.


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