I heard from a member of Sen. Obama's staff this afternoon. And as you'd expect, the senator does oppose the president's Gulf Coast Wage Cut.
I've also gotten more than a few emails from present and former hill staffers, many of them friends, on this matter of calling and trying to find out where your member of Congress stands on a given issue.
So a few words.
First, as many of these folks point out, the folks who field phone calls from the public are often interns or new hires working for more or less dismal wages. They are often under instructions not to get into conversations about what their boss's position on an issue probably is until the press or communications folks have put together a release or some definitive statement.
This doesn't change the essential calculus of the importance or utility of trying to get the person who represents you to tell you where they stand on a key issue. But it is a good reason, as I'm sure you already are, to be polite and courteous with the person on the other end of the phone because their hands are often tied in terms of what they're allowed to say.
So, briefly, be nice.
Having said that, though, members of Congress generally like to keep their options open as much as possible. On many issues, all things being equal, they'd just as soon not take any position at all, certainly not a definitive one.
And it is telling (with all respect to my friends) that on an issue so clear-cut on the substance and so potent on the politics that so many Democratic offices still don't know what the issue is even about when constituents call -- or at least haven't prepared a statement from the member or senator.
Voters have every right to ring up their member of Congress and ask where they stand on a given issue. And they should get answers -- not just have their opinion marked off as for or against on the issue in question.
So yes, a bit of understanding is in order. Maybe your Rep. or Senator is still putting together a statement. And maybe the person answering the phone doesn't know the boss's position or doesn't want to say before they've been given the go-ahead.
But this is a clear-cut issue. You are not a bystander. You're part of the process. And asking your representatives where they stand puts them on notice that you're watching and want answers.