Visit From the Congressman

My current Congressman, Chet Edwards (D-TX) just happened to stop by one of my classes today. As you may recall, he was mentioned as a potential running mate for Obama before Biden was selected. Edwards brought this up during his visit, stating he was one of Obama's top 4 choices and relaying this story, which is also found in the linked article:

"Caroline Kennedy called me on August 10 to let me know my name would soon be leaked to the press," Edwards said. "It was a fascinating experience for my family."

Much to his misfortune, there was another "Edwards" making national news at the same time. John Edwards, former democratic vice presidential nominee, started a major media wave when he admitted to having an extramarital affair that ended two years ago.

"Senator Obama said it would cause too much confusion to have two 'Edwards' in the headlines at the same time," Edwards said.

It's quite unfortunate for him that the John Edwards thing broke when it did. Of course, it could have broke much earlier, and spared Chet the damage, if the media had done what it normally does when there are rumors of infidelity by politicians. That is, pursue the story instead of burying it. This arguably would have helped Clinton in Iowa too, where she was edged by Obama in a close three-way race. But back to the story: it's too bad for Rep. Edwards, but the way he brought up his "final four" status right away in his remarks to us seemed rather self-aggrandizing.

He went on to discuss leadership (which was the class he was visiting), stating that its not the general who barks the loudest who is the best leader, but the one who can inspire his troops to follow him.

He opened the floor to questions, and a student asked about the beginnings of his political career. Edwards cited the civil rights movement as something that drew him to politics, and he discussed getting a job with his congressman out of college. Shortly thereafter, he ran for that man's seat when he retired. In the primary, he was pitted against his old professor at A&M, none other than future Senator Phil Gramm (then a Democrat), who narrowly beat him.

I seized the next questioning opportunity, and I asked him what his approach to getting things done in the House is, what with 434 other Congressmen trying to pursue their own goals. He said it is important to focus on 3-4 key issues, and become an expert on those issues. His stated that his main issues are veterans, education, securing the world's nuclear weapons, and church/state separation.

(As an aside, this is the second Congressman I've grilled. I was able to subject Rep. Bishop of Utah to a tough question about earmarks last summer).

The last question to Edwards was one about a difficult political stance he has taken. He spoke about opposing a Constitutional amendment to require prayer in schools. He said he was called "un-American and un-Texan" for his stance.

With that, he headed off to some Rotary meeting. It was pretty neat for him to stop by, and as a bonus, it preempted our class.

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