was printed in the Pocono Record 10/01/2010.
Howard Frank: Paul Kanjorski's disappearing act
Float like a butterfly; flee like a bee
By HOWARD FRANK
October 01, 2010
Dear Congressman Kanjorski:
I am so disappointed with you.
The country is beset by record unemployment and a deep economic downturn. People — your people — are truly suffering.
Pocono voters will choose their leaders in November.
Your constituents. In your 11th Congressional District.
Yet you refuse to appear before them.
You've scheduled only one debate with your opponent, Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta, to take place less than a week before Election Day. And that's it.
The Pocono Record asked you to meet with its editorial board. To sit across the table from your challenger, to stake your positions on issues that affect our readers' lives.
Duck and cover isn't just a Cold War-era slogan. It's become a signature of your campaigns.
During your last run in 2008, you dropped out of an East Stroudsburg University debate with Barletta. At the last minute. You are avoiding debates like I avoid telemarketers.
When I called Barletta's campaign spokesman, he said: "You get us a day and time and we'll be there. We're not ducking the issues. We're not hiding from people."
Then I asked your staff about another debate. They refused.
Your spokesman said: "We don't see a value in giving Barletta forums to spread his lies about the congressman and smear him like his TV ads do."
But you're thumbing your nose at your constituents.
You are our congressman. You're our representative. Our envoy in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The public deserves to know where you stand. Meet you face to face. Look you in the eye. That means something to people.
You've also mostly abandoned town hall meetings, saying you can reach more people via the telephone.
Congressman, you can't represent the people if you won't appear before them.
Now, I'm not naive. I understand incumbents like to lie low, limit campaign risks and ease their way back into office.
But politics is a game that should be played on behalf of your constituents, not against them.
We can put a discussion together on the issues with other local media outlets. C'mon, we're not talking about the "Rumble in the Jungle" here. More like the "Debate in Penn Estates."
Without more debates, you do a disservice to yourself, your office and most of all, your district. The very one you are asking us to represent.
I've gotten to know you over the years. You're smart, quick on your feet, eloquent, even charming. Your opponent, he's a decent guy. Hard working, dedicated to his ideas. A gentleman.
Why hide like a child in a thunderstorm? Share your ideas and hold them up to scrutiny.
Our voters deserve a fearless voice. Make your case. Stand up. Show us what you've got.
Congressman Kanjorski, man up.