Archived Opinion

Meadows makes his mark in the swamp

Meadows makes his mark in the swamp

Where’s Mark?

As in Rep. Mark Meadows, our Republican congressman who reportedly represents the rural and economically challenged residents of mountainous Western North Carolina? Where is he, literally, after his prominent role in the healthcare drama that played out last week in our nation’s capital (otherwise known as the swamp).

Well, if you pay attention to his press office and watch night-time cable news (I’m guilty of both), you’ll find that he’s spent the weeks leading up to the momentous healthcare vote last Friday making the rounds of the various talk shows. Meadows was seemingly basking in the limelight provided by his leadership of the Freedom Caucus, the renegade GOP faction that foiled the President Trump and Rep. Paul Ryan healthcare initiative that was to replace Obamacare.

Press releases from his office made sure newspapers and constituents knew that on March 16 the former Tea Party favorite Meadows had a two-fer, first with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe” and later with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. These appearances were sandwiched by appearances on Fox and again on CNN and MSNBC. Then there’s the Wall Street Journal guest column he co-authored with Sen. Ted Cruz on healthcare reform, this one published earlier in March. 

And all the newspapers and websites covering the minutiae of D.C. politics had plenty of interviews and quips from Meadows.

I can appreciate that this was a huge bill and that Meadows — the former Florida and Jackson County resident turned Ashevillian so he could more easily escape his district to wallow in the swamp — played a big role in its defeat. Our congressman was a key player in stopping the Trump-Ryan bill, gaining clout for the Freedom Caucus he chairs and himself in doing so.

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But what we want to know is whether that clout will do anything for us back home? We haven’t heard Mark’s response to the Trump budget proposal that would gut federal funding for many key programs that help his constituents, like the Appalachian Regional Commission, public television and radio, Meals on Wheels, Foster Grandparents, low-income heating assistance, etc., etc. One reason we haven’t heard is that during the recent congressional recess Meadows didn’t hold a single public town hall meeting. Zippo for Marko.

Even the largest newspaper in the region, the Asheville Citizen-Times, was reduced to taking quotes from the D.C. press to explain Meadows’ position on the healthcare bill. Incidentally, our reporters’ phone calls also went unanswered.

Many in his own party, apparently, are second-guessing his recent actions. A Waynesville event on Monday that was deemed a “Rally and Sign Wave” to support his actions on the healthcare bill drew, by our reporter’s count, a mere 25 attendees. I saw more people than that buying Girl Scout cookies Saturday outside of Lowe’s. 

Get the gist here? Look, we all appreciate our congressman learning the ins and outs of various cable news greenrooms. That will set him up for a job with Fox News at some point in the future and he won’t be looking for work like our former governor. But we also want someone who represents our region, who makes us feel like he really cares, who comes home and actually spends time in the hinterlands of his district.

I used to have long-running ideological differences with our former Rep. Charles Taylor, a Brevard Republican who also rose to prominence during his tenure in Washington. But one thing for sure about Taylor is that he couldn’t wait to get back to WNC and out of the Washington swamp.

Perhaps those kinds of politicians are long gone. Keep sending out those notices of television appearances, Mark, and when it’s convenient we look forward to seeing you occasionally emerge from the swamp. 

(Reach Scott McLeod at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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