“There is no one who is more ever present in the district” than Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, said her publicist, Jeff Marschner to Loudon Now, just last month. He was responding on Comstock’s behalf to the vociferous clamor from constituents and media, who called on her to hold a Town Hall in her district during the Congressional spring break week in April. As Marschner explained it, there was no need for a Town Hall, given that she’s always out there, “listening to, learning from and meeting with her constituents.” (Actually, she was in Egypt at the time, but let us not digress).
Just this past Memorial Day weekend, Virginia’s Tenth Congressional District was treated to an all-out phalanx of event attendance by Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, her staff, and family.
By her own account, Ms. Comstock personally attended no fewer than four remembrance events on Monday, ranging from Sterling, to Manassas, to Leesburg and Berryville. She deployed her staff to Ashburn, Purcellville and Springfield, and enlisted her family members to attend events in Great Falls and McLean. All in one day.
She posted the photo-ops to social media throughout the day and later preened in an email that showcased each and every ceremony. Is this what Mr. Marschner meant? This “frantic travel schedule,” as the Loudon Tribune described it, back in February?
This type of behavior – namely – attending as many ceremonies as possible, even attending some just by proxy, cheapens these events. This “frantic” pace followed by preening posts. It’s all so nakedly ambitious. While families and friends of the fallen are solemnly memorializing the sacrifice of their loved ones, Barbara Comstock is there to get a photo and a handshake, before she jets off to the next event, 30 miles away. Love to stay and chat, but gotta’ run! Pose for the camera real quick, and tweet it from the car.
With Memorial Day over, the rest of the week is a recess for the House. This is a critical period for Representatives to connect with their constituents about some very significant issues, for example: the new CBO score released for the AHCA; Trump’s planned announcement for whether he will withdraw the nation from the Paris Accord on Climate Change; whether Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into reports that he may have colluded with Russia during the presidential transition; whether Planned Parenthood will be de-funded… the list is long.
No fewer than 30 Town Halls are being held by Members of Congress this week to discuss those issues, Democrat and Republican, alike. Barbara Comstock is not one of those Members. In fact, she’s been relatively quiet since the end of her Memorial Day photo-op blitz.
This week it was reported that she quietly blocked a constituent activist group, Dump Comstock, on Twitter. Though the group has clearly been an annoyance for her, with their crowd-funded billboard in Winchester and their citizen-run booths at events that Comstock herself also attends, it is unclear why she took this extreme action. A review of the group’s tweets shows they seek to fact-check her tweets, not abuse her, or violate Twitter’s terms of service.
By keeping her schedule private until after the fact, avoiding Town Halls, and blocking citizen gadflies on Twitter, Barbara Comstock appears to be curating her Congressional experience to resemble that of a rarefied, honorary Miss Virginia. The events she picks and chooses to attend or eschew suggest a woman who wishes never to face any people who have tough questions for her to answer.
Ducking, weaving and glad-handing aside, there is one day that she cannot avoid answering to each of her constituents, individually. That day is November 6, 2018. Election Day.