If anyone was looking for a bomb-thrower – Urban Dictionary: “A colloquial term used to describe people who stir up trouble” – Antonio Delgado isn’t he.
That had to be the conclusion of any objective ear at his Feb. 18 “Town Hall” in Cooperstown Village Hall, where one speaker, opining President Trump is “mentally ill,” asked the freshman congressman if he would vote for impeachment.
The reply was perfectly circumspect: “I’m going to do whatever the truth requires me to do. This process has been thorough and extensive, but I intend to read the Mueller Report and make my decision from that.”
No one’s painting oneself into a corner here.
This is not meant as criticism, but as praise.
Delgado began his remarks in Cooperstown – two days later, he spent two hours at the open house that opened on the fifth floor of Oneonta’s 189 Main – saluting his 19th Congressional District’s “diversity.”
No, he didn’t mean it that way: He was praising the reality. The district is roughly a third Democratic, a third Republican and a third in the middle.
Not a bad thing, but a good thing, in his mind: A divided constituency requires him to listen to varied views, then to compromise.
This is pretty moderate stuff. The crowd in the Village Hall ballroom, nonetheless, hung on every on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand declaration, applauding enthusiastically.
If you actually listened to what he said, you have to conclude: Here is a moderate, representing a generally moderate district. How propitious is that?
Not to revisit unhappier times, and AD The Voice.
Asked about his short career in rap during last fall’s campaign, he repeatedly said something like: I’m fighting for the same things now as I was then, universal healthcare, good schools, etc., etc.
Maybe Delgado’s year on L.A.’s hip-hop scene was simply fun, a lark. Maybe there was a hope to achieve great acclaim and riches. Maybe, as young men do, he was working out anger at The Man.
But fighting for the same things? Implausible.
The phrase, no doubt, was pre-tested. He knew it would work sufficiently well to deflect the controversy – and it did, in defeating six Democrats in the primary and a sitting Republican.
That he stuck with it – when undoubtedly he would have liked to say more, to explain or defend himself – took discipline, the same discipline that prevented him from pandering to some in the “Town Hall” crowd the other day.
Despite questioners’ efforts to lock him in, he said nothing at the “Town Hall” that will come back to kick him in the pants in the next campaign – the National Republican Congressional Committee already has him on its list of 55 Democrats it plans to target in 2020.
Let’s remember, Delgado brings a blue-chip background to the office: Colgate, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law, and 10 years in the powerhouse lobbying law firm, Akin Gump. (In litigation, not lobbying, he’s quick to say – tested too, no doubt, and sufficient.)
He’s only 41 years old. While modest, our 19th District seat is a satisfactory launching pad for a promising political career at the national level. Delgado’s not going to blow it.
“I am here to be your representative,” he said at Cooperstown. Likely, we can bet on it and benefit from it, for the time being.
“I am only beholden to you.” For now, maybe. Judging to date, he may have the ambition, the brains and – above all – the discipline, to do much more. This will be interesting to watch.