So the phone rings during dinner the other night. Can’t be Charles Djou again, right? The campaign is over, he’s in D.C. The picture with Nancy Pelosi was in the paper. Must be Habilitat or one of those other unrepentant dinnertime callers.
Deja vu. Deja Djou.
And Charles has lots of questions:
Do you believe that government is spending too much and hindering economic recovery?
Do you want the government to increase regulations on banking and lending even if it may cost you more to take out a loan?
Do you support a comprehensive energy approach that includes renewable energy and developing domestic resources?
Do you support a national energy tax, also known as "cap and trade," which could cost every family in Hawaii an additional $3,500 a year for energy consumption?
The phone survey and a mailer went out to homes in his district this week. The mailer asked opinions on issues such as the stimulus package, nationalized health care and expanding free trade.
The effort was administered by Djou’s congressional office as a way to "connect with his constituents and gather their opinions on a range of issues," said his press secretary, Daniel Son.
"Congressman Djou’s highest priority is to represent his constituents in an effective and thoughtful fashion. This survey will help him do that," Son said.
So doesn’t he already get a ton of phone calls and e-mail telling him "do this" and "don’t do that"?
"Not all constituents, however, are able to call or write in, but their opinions are no less important. The telephone survey is a way of reaching more constituents," Son said.
Doubters will see this as more than a little opportunistic. The questions are worded so that the most likely answers are the ones Djou wants.
Who is really going to say, "Heck, yeah! Cap and trade! I’m happy to shell out an additional $3,500 a year so my family can have lights on in the house! Geev um!"
And it’s a yes/no kind of question. He’s not live on the other side of the phone, ready to engage in a long discussion.
Some might say the phone and mail surveys smudge the line between doing the job and campaigning for November. But that’s the beauty of being an incumbent. You get to do both at the same time.
Mostly, the survey is yet another smart move from a politician who hasn’t made a false step yet.
Djou didn’t just go to Washington and get quiet. He’s calling home, reminding people that he’s busy on their behalf and asking them, albeit in canny ways, what they think about the issues he’s voting on.
How many times has Mazie Hirono called your house to ask what you think?
The only time Dan Inouye calls is to tell you whom to vote for.
Djou is planning eight in-person talk-story sessions in his district between July 5 and 10. But when he’s not in town, he might be calling to check in around dinner time.
Lee Cataluna can be reached at email@example.com.