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There’s no need for Roe to talk down to constituents

Staff Report • May 29, 2012 at 8:53 AM

If you ever get the feeling your congressman is talking down to you, it’s not just your imagination. He actually is.

According to a story from the Knoxville News Sentinel, members of Congress are speaking a full grade level lower than they did seven years ago. The paper’s Nashville Bureau chief Tom Humphrey also reported that seven out of Tennessee’s 11 members to the U.S. House of Representatives communicate below the national average.

Our own Congressman Phil Roe, R-1st, was found to be speaking on the lowest grade level at 8.64. Next came Congressman Scott DesJarlais, R-4th, who communicates at a 9.87.

“Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from a high of 11.5 in 2005,” says a report by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. “Of course, what some might interpret as a dumbing down of Congress, others will see as more effective communications.

“And lawmakers of both parties still speak above the heads of the average American, who reads at between an eighth- and ninth-grade level.”

So what should we really make of the report? Both Roe and DesJarlais are smart men. Both have medical degrees. And both represent districts that include rural areas, as well a few of the fastest-growing counties in the state.

We certainly don’t think the residents of the 1st District deserve to be talked to as if they need a course in remedial English. Perhaps it’s the language the aforementioned congressmen use to communicate with their constituents.

We can’t speak for DesJarlais, but it seems to us Roe uses a lot of the political rhetoric of the day and talking points from the GOP when he speaks to constituents.

Both Roe and the people of his district would be better served by a frank conversation that doesn’t sound like campaign ads.

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