Mobile, Ala. — Even in the state that embraces President Trump’s pugnacity more than any other, a congressman running for the U.S. Senate can hold a town hall meeting without verbal “red meat” or histrionics. Maybe we can all learn something from that.

On Friday morning in his hometown of Mobile, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., was hosting another of the more than 100 open meetings he has conducted since taking office barely five years ago. Compared to the wild and angry hordes that greeted Byrne at town halls shortly after Trump was elected and to the many dozens of attendees at most recent meetings, the event at Spring Hill College was sedate and sparsely attended.

Indeed, Byrne’s own staffers combined with working media easily outnumbered the “ordinary citizens,” fewer than 10, who attended in this upscale section of town. But whether before hundreds of constituents or a handful, Byrne’s tones are the same: measured, low-key, expositive rather than incendiary.

On substance, there wasn’t much newsworthy from Byrne’s responses to audience questions — or at least, nothing new for people who pay reasonably close attention to Congress. Perhaps the only thing that qualified was his list of the five issue areas on which he thinks a divided Congress actually will be able to produce meaningful legislation in the next two years, even if most headlines will portray pitched partisan warfare.

Those five were: 1.) a national defense authorization act, 2.) a spending deal without quite so much drama as in prior years, 3.) reforms around the edges of policies related to the pharmaceutical industry, 4.) a small infrastructure bill (although not as comprehensive as Trump has demanded), and 5.) re-authorization of the Higher Education Act (with some mild reforms).

Again, though, what was most striking in this age of harsh rhetoric was the tone. …

[The full piece is at this link.]



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