U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows will be hard to caricature

Feb. 03, 2013 @ 03:31 AM

Those outside the 11th District who don’t much more about U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, the newly elected Republican in the district, than that Tea Party groups are firmly behind him might ascribe a series of stereotypes to him.

If Meadows’ performance Friday evening during his first official visit to Lenoir, a town hall meeting at the Caldwell County Public Library on Hospital Avenue, is typical of how he operates, that would be a mistake.

Any first-time observer of Meadows would be able to tell quickly that he seems to be a born politician. He is comfortable in front of a crowd, though perhaps being comfortable in front of a friendly audience is not the strongest gauge for judging that. He is funny. He wore what looked like an expensive, well tailored suit, but his manner was on the level with audience.

Policy positions aside, that’s quite a starting point for a politician.

His prepared presentation was boiler-plate, a recitation of statistics and party-line positions. Nothing that would surprise or startle anyone on either side of the aisle.

What stood out, however, were his answers to questions from the audience. Most of the questions were of the red-meat variety, fat softballs down the middle of the plate for a conservative Republican.

Yet Meadows’ answers often were nuanced, avoiding the kind of strong declarations that could draw an enthusiastic response from the audience. (One notable exception was his remarks on the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, the only time of the evening that the audience loudly applauded an answer.)

For instance, when asked about potential moves to repeal or restrict the ability to carry concealed weapons, he essentially waved it off. Not gonna happen, forget about it. Asked about a bill introduced in Congress to allow presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms so President Obama can run again, Meadows dismissed it. Not worth worrying about.

“A lot of the things you read about on the Internet will never see the light of day,” he said.

You mean World Net Daily is wrong?! Say it ain’t so.

When asked about whether Congress would act to limit Obama’s ability to issue executive orders, Meadows first noted that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than the previous two presidents, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, then launched into a summary of the legal history of executive orders, including the very first ever issued – by George Washington.

Those unaccustomed to members of Congress having read anything at all, let alone history, could be forgiven for being astonished by that one.

This is not to say that Democrats will find much about Meadows to like. His conservatism is clear.

It is only to note only that at a minimum Meadows seems, at this early juncture, unlikely to be the sort to wind up on TV someday spouting embarrassing nonsense. At best, he may be the sort of politician whose arguments, even if you disagree with them, are based on facts rather than wishes or imagination.

Residents of many districts across the land have done much worse.