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Memo from Washington
I was in DC interviewing LGBTQ House members in their offices for a Pride special. And I had an exchange with Marjorie Taylor Greene.
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I usually post here on Monday or Tuesday mornings, but it’s been a bit hectic the last 24 hours or so. I hopped on a train Monday night after my SiriusXM program, along with my producer, Jake Vevera, and headed to DC for some pre-arranged interviews. We’re putting together Pride coverage, and we set up sit-downs with several LGBTQ members in their offices on Capitol Hill.
I spoke with Illinois freshman congressman Eric Sorenson, who spent 20 years as a meteorologist and then took his knowledge to Congress to help teach the troglodytes in the GOP about climate change. I met with Becca Balint, who, like Sorenson, is the first openly gay or lesbian person elected to the House in a progressive state that should have elected one ages ago—in her case, Vermont. I interviewed the veteran progressive lawmaker Mark Pocan, the Wisconsin gay congressman who mocks the hard-right extremists mercilessly and makes me laugh out loud.
I was honored to speak with Sharice Davids, the first native American lesbian elected to Congress—and also the first openly gay person elected to Congress from Kansas. It was also great to have some time with Representative Robert Garcia, the former mayor of Long Beach, California, who was elected to the House in 2022 and is hitting hard against the far right’s white supremacist immigrant-bashing as an immigrant himself.
Mark Takano, a Japanese-American who was the first gay person of color to be elected to Congress, sat down with me for a wide-ranging discussion and, as always, focused on the history of discrimination in this country—and how the right is trying to dismiss it. And I was glad to run into Congressman Ritchie Torres in the hallway, the gay Afro-Latino congressman from the Bronx who comes on my program often and always brings the fire.
This was the first time we’ve traveled with the show, believe it or not, since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Regular listeners to my show will know we’ve traveled often throughout the year. We’d go to Washington, where SiriusXM has impressive studios, a few times a year, including to cover the Values Voter Summit and the Conservative Political Action Conference. (You all know I love going into the belly of the beast and challenging the crazies.)
We’d go to Los Angeles and broadcast the show for a few days, or to Nashville, Austin, or elsewhere, focusing on local issues as well as how the national issues are playing out or are impacted by the places to which we’d travel. And of course we’d go to the national political conventions—pre-pandemic—covering the four days of political spectacle every four years.
I really did miss it, so it was nice to go down to DC. I did notice that things are quiet, not just in DC but even on Amtrak. The schedules are cut, and the trains aren’t as full. This is the impact of remote work that is here to stay.
Capitol Hill itself is bustling as legislators and their staffs are working, even if much of what is happening in the House is a clown show put on by the GOP. In between interviews, my producer and I decided to walk into George Santos’ office and ask for an interview. It was a long shot, but we were there interviewing gay members for Pride—as we told his staff—so why not? There would have been fireworks for sure, but alas, he was on the House floor, they told us.
I did have an interaction with Marjorie Taylor Greene. We met Congressman Robert Garcia for our interview in a room off the Homeland Security Committee room. He sits on the committee, and a hearing was going to soon get underway. And who else sits on the committee? MTG, of course.
We sat in on the committee hearing after interviewing Garcia and watched Greene put on a demented show. She berated a DHS official who appeared before the committee about an app DHS is using to facilitate safe and orderly border processing for immigrants. Then she took her purse and left. It’s unreal how these MAGA GOP members don’t even attend the full committee hearing. They just put on a show for Fox and then walk out.
I walked out too and followed her to ask some questions. She began to run up a stairwell. I said, "Congresswoman Greene, What is woke and wokeism?"
She stopped on a landing and asked me to ask again. I did, and she asked, "Who are you and what is this about?" I identified myself and explained that both Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis have attacked wokeism, so I wanted to know if she had a definition for it.
She said, "Oh, well, you better go ask them about it," and scampered away.
After passing Ohio’s Jim Jordan in the hall—he was on the phone, so I couldn’t ask him a question—we ran to get our bags and catch our train. I’m glad I went, and I look forward to going back.