Breakfast With Doug Hoffman
Doug's campaign has taken my interest since well before it became a national sensation. I saw just how liberal the Republican candidate was and how Mr. Hoffman was espousing common sense conservative values - less government regulation, lower taxes, and taking a firm stand against some of the more damaging elements of the Nancy Pelosi agenda, like cap-and-trade and card check, and it was a no-brainer to support him.
But I hadn't had the chance to meet Doug until yesterday, and I walked away with a great image of the man.
First off, it's true what the pundits have been saying about Mr. Hoffman. He's unpolished - a regular guy. A fellow attendee told WPTZ-TV that Doug seemed "socially awkward." I think that's a fair assessment. My father picked up on it. "He's a CPA," he declared. Short, blunt, and to the point.
Of course, none of these are really negatives. Not in this political atmosphere.
What is political savvy and polish really good for anyway? For decades we've completely populated the House of Representatives with slick talkers who have an answer for everything - veritable know-it-alls who are the magic elixir for everything that ails us. That's not Doug, and that's why he's a breath of fresh air.
So the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" meme that the media is using for Mr. Hoffman is 100% accurate. Like Fred Thompson said in the ad, "he's one of us."
But it was what Doug said to us that really made me glad I was supporting him (and I'm paraphrasing throughout here, since I didn't have my voice recorder with me). "Politicians don't create jobs," he said of his opponents' constant promises of X number of jobs here and X number of jobs there. "Our elected leaders need to create a positive environment for businesses in order to allow THEM to create jobs."
Isn't it kind of obvious which candidate is more interested in creating that climate? I'll give you a hint - it's not the one who has been railing on repealing the Bush tax cuts, calling them "failed policies." Mr. Hoffman went into a short discussion on S-corporations and how repealing these cuts hurts small business owners more than anyone (hey, he's a CPA, he knows his stuff).
When it came down to question and answer time, I was fortunate to be able to ask the last question. I noted that the Watertown Daily Times had peppered him with all kinds of questions about local projects like the St. Lawrence Seaway and the proposed "Rooftop Highway" connecting Watertown to Plattsburgh. I thought it was ridiculous of them to cherry-pick local pet projects and demand an answer on them and ignore issues like card check and high taxes as though those aren't "local" issues. I'm sorry, were we exempt from cap-and-trade?
"I'm from Ticonderoga," I told Mr. Hoffman. "I could care less about the St. Lawrence Seaway. I do, however, care about the Crown Point Bridge. Fact is, New York's 23rd is a vast district with diverse interests." I then added my bit about national issues not having any local relevance - well, at least if you write for the Watertown Daily News - and asked him for his thoughts on the matter.
Doug compared being a congressman to his job as a CPA. "Lots of people would walk through my door with issues that they wanted me to take care of. You're never going to know as they walk in just what those problems are. The most important thing is that you find out what they are, seek to understand them, and help them arrive at a solution."
Bingo. At any rate, politicians in Washington don't need to be involved in every little thing that comes down the pike. Most of the time, they're only doing it for the face time involved anyway. Mr. Hoffman remarked that many politicians only get involved in local projects for the votes they can buy with them in the first place.
Mr. Hoffman also shot down the notion that he's against all earmarks. His opponents have been acting like if you're against pork barrel spending, you're against any money whatsoever coming into the district. His rebuttal was that he was opposed to wasteful earmarks, using the indoor rainforest in Iowa as a classic example of things the federal government doesn't need to spend money on.
When he gets to Washington, Doug certainly going to be an engima. Many of his colleagues aren't going to understand his approach to solving problems. That's going to be an underscore for exactly how screwed up Washington is.