Controversy arose this week in the normally sleepy Western Slope town of Dolores, when a surprise appearance at Dolores High School by Rep. Lauren Boebert divided parents and raised both political and safety concerns. Reporter Bailey Duran at the Cortez Journal:
Many parents opted to keep their children home amid concerns for their children’s safety after the announcement that U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert would hold a Q&A with Dolores High School students Wednesday during her trip to Southwest Colorado for water-related meetings…
“Security concerns are being ignored by the principal,” [a parent who requested anomymity] said. “No parents were notified till the last minute by email and only because of rumors circulating. There is no concern over the children’s safety bringing this controversial person to our children’s schools.”
“This was hidden from parents and is very concerning that the school is not taking school shootings serious. This embattled politician could have a crazy person come after her putting our children in the line of fire. Completely irresponsible,” she said.
With respect to the issue of Boebert being proudly armed wherever she is permitted to be, and maybe willing to push that line a little if you bought her fake green-screen video carrying a Glock on the streets of Washington, D.C., Dolores school district officials tried to be reassuring:
Other parents said they were concerned that Boebert would bring a firearm on campus. She is known for conceal carrying.
“We have confirmed and re-confirmed with the Congresswoman’s staff that she will not have a firearm with her while she is on campus,” the district said. [Pols emphasis]
Boebert, for her part, professed to be very upset that her visit with Dolores High students was being “politicized.”
“That’s really unfortunate that they would politicize something like this, and it was certainly an honor for me to be there. I wasn’t making anything political of it. You know, just explaining the basics of civics and government [Pols emphasis] and the way things operate and giving them kind of an insider’s look without a partisan lens. I’m not sure exactly what the safety concern would be. But I think that it was well received and the students were amazing, friendly and welcoming … they were a joy,” the congresswoman told The Journal.
But here’s the problem, reported by Duran in an updated story today–it was Boebert who turned what was supposed to have been a boring civics lecture into a campaign stop:
School officials and Boebert’s office billed the session in the Dolores Schools gymnasium as a kind of civics discussion, but the congresswoman also spoke of her efforts with the Freedom Caucus – a conservative bloc of Republican representatives – the U.S. response to COVID-19, and in response to students’ questions, about her personal and political development…
She also spoke about the start to the 118th Congress and about tactics used in the House during the election of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.
“For those who pay attention to politics, it was exciting. Some called it chaos, but as a mom of four boys, I know chaos,” Boebert joked. [Pols emphasis]
We suppose the one saving grace here is that Boebert was talking “civics” and not sex ed.
This morning, the Durango Herald editorial board slammed Boebert for turning her time with Dolores High students into a political pep rally:
We strongly support students engaging in civic matters. But we’re uncomfortable with U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s visit on Wednesday to Dolores High School because her talk ventured beyond governance into political territory…
Like her or otherwise, Boebert is a polarizing politician. According to our latest news story, she spoke about “moral decay”; becoming aware of issues that could infringe on students’ rights; the Freedom Caucus, a conservative group of GOP representatives; and liberties infringed on during the pandemic. Apparently, she also told students they should know about those issues and let it motivate them to stand up for their freedom.
Come on! This is Boebert’s brand on stage in front of students without parents present.
What we saw play out this week in Dolores are the natural consequences of Boebert’s controversial national political profile, and how ill-suited that public image is to the district Boebert represents in Congress. Boebert doesn’t represent Marjorie Taylor Greene’s overwhelmingly Republican district, she represents a district that came with 546 votes of ending her career in disgust last November. Try as she might, Boebert can’t carry out the day-to-day responsibilities of her office without her bombastic rhetoric, which she has refused to cast off despite all the good advice in the world, tripping those efforts up.
Boebert is never going to be normal, and that’s a hopeful sign despite the occasional awkwardness.