WASHINGTON – Maryland’s members of Congress say they are receiving only a handful of calls each day on Kosovo, most of them against U.S. military action there.
By contrast, those same offices were flooded by hundreds of e-mails, letters and calls a day during the impeachment proceedings and other controversial issues.
“This is nowhere close to what we received during the impeachment proceedings. We received 1,700 e-mails in one weekend then,” said Susan Sullam, a spokeswoman for Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore. She said Cardin has only received about 27 e-mails and 18 calls on Kosovo in the last two weeks.
“I think it’s very much a wait-and-see attitude. I think people are nervous, but they are reserving judgment,” Sullam said.
Staffers attributed the apparent lack of interest to the fact that Congress is currently on recess. In fact, they said, the topic comes up frequently in the districts as representatives meet their constituents.
Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, discussed the crisis after it was raised at a town hall meeting of about 50 Silver Spring residents Tuesday, the same day Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, spoke on Kosovo the University of Maryland College Park.
When Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, went on a Hagerstown radio talk show Wednesday, six of the 10 callers wanted to discuss Kosovo, his staff said. All six opposed air strikes.
Charles Huston of National Write Your Congressman said that Americans are indifferent to Kosovo right now because they “don’t see [Congress] in the media making statements that they can say `I agree with that’ or `I disagree with that.’
“People are sitting back and waiting to see while [Congress] is in Easter recess and because there is nothing in the hands of Congress yet,” Huston said. “Once something even more tragic happens, people will begin voicing their opinions.”
Maryland’s U.S. senators are getting those opinions a little more frequently than the House members. But a spokesman for Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D- Baltimore, acknowledged the amount is “nowhere close to the volume during the impeachment.”
Sarbanes has received about 500 e-mails, calls and letters since military operations began, Jacobs said. There has been a “significant increase” in volume since the bombing started, he said, with constituent response running about “60- 40” against the airstrikes.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, has received slightly fewer calls than Sarbanes, staffers said, but they refused to say how many.
“It’s the largest number of calls we’re getting right now, since it’s the biggest thing in the news. Our phone is not ringing off the hook by any stretch of the imagination,” said spokeswoman Johanna Ramos-Boyer.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, said the majority of their 200 phone calls were against involvement. Jill Homan said that while most contacts since the bombing have been about Kosovo, the office is still getting only about 13 contacts per day on the subject, compared to 33 a day between September and December, when the impeachment and attacks on Iraq were in the news.
At Hoyer’s office, Kosovo calls have already started to taper off, said spokeswoman Debra DeShong said. “We got a lot more calls like when we bombed Iraq last summer,” she said. “Generally, no news is good news. When people are happy, they don’t write and say, ‘Good job,'” Huston said. — Capital News Service reporters A.C. Benson, Amy Jeter, Amanda Jones, Keri P. Mattox and Beth Perretta contributed to this report. -30-