I suspect Bruce Poliquin has hired one of my dogs as a political consultant.
Which might not be a bad move on the part of the freshman Republican congressman from Maine’s 2nd District – if he gets the right advice. You know, like how to look so cute when being scolded that there’s no chance he’ll be punished.
Me: Bad boy, Brucie, bad boy. You switch positions on issues such as LGBT rights, foreign trade, funding Planned Parenthood and gun control based on how they affect your chances of re-election. You consistently support legislation helping rich people and big banks avoid paying their fair share. You try to distract me from your misdeeds by introducing meaningless bills like the one denying welfare benefits to terrorists. You’re a bad, bad boy.
Him: (rolls over, wags tail, looks at me with big brown eyes filled with love, while whimpering to indicate he wants me to scratch his belly)
Me: Oh, Brucie, how can I stay mad at you, when you engage in such adorable, nonverbal modes of communication. Here’s a doggie treat in the form of a campaign donation. But you be a good boy from now on.
Unfortunately, that’s not the lesson our representative has learned. Well, maybe not so unfortunately. The thought of scratching Bruce Poliquin’s belly is repulsive.
No, the tactic he’s adopted from my dog Hooper, a 12-year-old terrier-hound mix with slightly less intelligence than my couch, is how to deal with uncomfortable interactions with the real world.
Hooper is not only dopey, but also mostly deaf. When called, he either doesn’t pay any attention or reacts with a look of mild confusion while remaining sprawled on the couch in case he needs to seek its wise counsel concerning whatever issue may have arisen.
Poliquin has obviously studied Hooper’s methods. Reporters in Washington have twice approached him asking if he’s going to endorse Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination. Poliquin knows that no matter what he answers, it’s bound to do some political damage. If he says yes, it fires up liberals and provides fodder for attack ads from his Democratic opponent, Emily Cain. But, more importantly, a yes reply also threatens to inflame the passions of many conservatives, who don’t trust Trump. That latter group is a crucial part of Poliquin’s base he can’t afford to alienate.
At the same time, the congressman doesn’t have the luxury of blowing off Trump. Refusing to endorse him would be perceived by many potential donors as disloyal to the Republican Party. Without their support, Poliquin’s chances of winning a second term diminish greatly.
The best course for a smart pol is to do what Hooper does. Silence offends no one.
Although, it can make even someone as short as Poliquin look like a giant dork.
In March, a reporter from Politico asked him if he was backing Trump. Poliquin admitted that was a “good question.” Then, he shut up and waited awkwardly for an elevator to save him from having to say what he really thought.
In May, after liberal blogger Mike Tipping made public a tape-recording of Poliquin telling a GOP women’s group that he didn’t even know what half of Trump’s policies were, but was ready to lead the charge in the House to refine and implement them, a journalist from Roll Call repeated the endorsement query. Poliquin “refused to answer or acknowledge the questions” and “stared straight ahead and occasionally looked at his phone, walking briskly from the House floor to another press conference.”
That’s exactly how Hooper would have handled it – except for the phone.
Hooper, however, has an excuse. He’s a dog. He has no idea who Trump is and would only care about his candidacy if doing so involved pork chops.
Poliquin isn’t deaf, and he’s probably smarter than my couch. The only reason he’s not answering is because he’s fundamentally dishonest and is hoping to deceive at least some of his constituents about his intentions.
One last point: Trump needs the endorsement of an insignificant congressman from northern Maine about as much as he needs more orange facial makeup. It’s likely The Donald doesn’t even know who Poliquin is.
Hooper, apparently, does know – and that’s disturbing.
Unlike Hooper, I respond when you email firstname.lastname@example.org.