Playing hide and seek with the House GOP

PLAYING HIDE AND SEEK WITH THE HOUSE GOP…. Members of the U.S. House have already begun their August recess, and with 13 weeks until the midterm elections, voters can expect some pretty aggressive campaigning — that is, if they can find their representative.

The Republican line is that Democrats intend to keep a low profile. On MSNBC yesterday, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) boasted, “I would venture to say that Democrats have gone into hiding, whereas John Boehner and I and the rest of our conference are out there, taking our message to the people.” Roll Call added, “After a series of rowdy town halls last August, House Republicans have accused Democrats of ‘hiding’ in their districts instead of engaging the public.”

House Dems tend to point to reality — Democrats have held more town-hall events in recent months than their Republican counterparts — but it’s also worth keeping in mind that the GOP criticism is at odds with their own caucus’ sudden introversion.

Several House Republicans are balking at a request by their leadership to offer up a copy of their August schedules for a GOP Conference online database.

“My constituents know how to find me,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said. “I’m listed in the phone book.”

GOP leaders have asked Members to submit their schedules as part of their “America Speaking Out” agenda project, but some Republicans said doing so would only create opportunities for their opponents to embarrass them.

What a bizarre approach. The GOP’s line is that Dems are hiding for fear of public backlash, which happens to coincide with several House Republicans choosing to keep their public schedules under wraps, for fear of embarrassment.

So much for the Republican swagger.

In a way, this is understandable. Well-publicized, public events in which voters can engage their representatives do carry a risk — GOP incumbents might be asked to explain themselves. Given the recent conduct of congressional Republicans, and the kind of questions they may be forced to endure, hiding may seem like a good idea.