I’m busy as can be today–my thanks to Robert for picking up slack–but I was listening to the debate in the House and just could not refrain from weighing in. Just a few quick notes here and there as I have C-SPAN streaming in the background as I do work:
First, Steny Hoyer is talking about how members must conduct themselves at all times in a manner which reflects positively on the House of Representatives. Who is Hoyer to say that? While he hasn’t yelled at the president, he did write an op-ed piece for USA Today in which he declared those who stood up and raised their voices at town hall meetings “un-American.” Granted, the two aren’t exactly the same, but Hoyer’s conduct certainly hasn’t reflected admirably upon Congress.
Forget for a moment that Barack Obama was actually lying, and that Joe Wilson was just pointing out the truth. Democrats like Rep. Pete Stark and Sen. Harry Reid have both called George W. Bush a “liar,” but there was no such formal rebuke. Democrats in general, lecturing anybody else on proper conduct? Please. That’s like Billy Joel giving driving lessons.
I hope John Boehner finds his microphone and rips him a new posterior orifice.
Oh — Boehner has yielded to Wilson himself. He’s right in saying that there are far more important matters to be discussing, and quoting the president, who said that “the time for games is over” was a masterstroke. Other than that, he handled himself well, and I certainly didn’t hear another apology.
Hoyer, in the meantime, has yielded to South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn. Clyburn, a member of the Black Congressional Caucus, protested South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s refusal of strings-attached stimulus funds as a racist act. Clyburn’s grandkids apparently attend school in Wilson’s district. How this matters, I don’t know. Ohhh — classroom teachers looking in upon Congress should see proper behavior, so that they can teach the children proper behavior. Hmm … isn’t that the responsibility of parents, and not the state?
Now, Clyburn is talking about contrition? Has Nancy Pelosi apologized for accusing the CIA of systematically lying to Congress? I don’t think so. Has Charlie Rangel apologized for tax fraud? I don’t think so. Please.
Now, Boehner is up. “It’s a sad day for the House of Representatives,” he said, and is “nothing more than a partisan stunt,” used to distract the American people from health care. Even Nancy Pelosi, Boehner pointed out, said that the time to talk about Wilson is over — health care should have the priority.
Boehner pointing out Wilson’s four sons in military service (three in Iraq), and his own 25 years of public service. It’s a partisan stunt, he said again, and talked about precedent being set here today. I like his passion, but he’s not pointing out that the president was indeed lying. This is the chance.
Clyburn is up again. “This is not a partisan stunt,” he said. “I do not participate in partisan stunts. And I think every member here knows that. This is about the proper decorum that should take place on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.” Really? So his criticism of Sanford with regard to the stimulus funds, trying to bring race into the issues, wasn’t partisan?
“All we’ve ever asked is that this body, this house, receive from Mr. Wilson a … statement of contrition,” Clyburn said. Wilson called the president, and apologized.
Now, Eric Cantor is up, expressing confusion as to why they’re on the floor today, debating this matter. Now he’s bringing up Reps. Stark and Thomas and their unfortunate conduct, and once again asking why this is a priority. “The [Wilson] resolution … creates no job. The resolution does nothing … to create access to quality health care.” I love it.
“It is time,” Cantor said, “to set aside childish things.”
Cantor is right. This entire debacle is absolutely insane. I, too, am at a loss as to what this is if it is not a partisan stunt. Now, he’s addressing the president’s truthfulness, or lack thereof. The claim that people can keep their own health care program, and the question of access to federal benefits by illegals.
“The president stood on this floor in this body … and said that he did not believe that there was any access for those here illegally to any benefits and, in fact, on page 143, there is a section which speaks to the issue that there should be no federal benefit to those here illegally,” Cantor said. “The problem that we have on this side is that there is no requirement for verification of legal status, and in fact the White House, in fact Sen. Baucus, and others have since come out and said: ‘You know what? You’re right.’”
Cantor is great.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): “Just what are we really accomplishing here?”
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), stated that “just as it was wrong for my Democrat colleagues to boo President Bush in this chamber, it was wrong for Joe Wilson to speak out of turn — the difference is that Joe Wilson apologized, and the president very graciously accepted his apology.” She also pointed out that Republicans offered up amendments on three separate occasions to ensure that illegal immigrants would not be entitled to health benefits and on all three occasions the Democrats rejected them.
Clyburn continues to reserve his time. He’s got something planned. Maybe a song?
Rep. Candice Miller pointed out that Wilson made an unfortunate mistake and apologized for it, and that President Obama recently made a mistake when addressing the actions of Cambridge police officers without having all of the facts regarding the arrest of an African American college professor. “He called it a teachable moment,” she said. “And I thought that was a very human response … I think we have a teachable moment here.” And, she said, it has nothing to do with race. “Case closed,” she said. Furthermore, she used her time to explain how Congress has bankrupted America, and acknowledged the tea party protests. I don’t know who she is, and I have trouble believing that she is a conservative from Michigan of all places, but today she’s fantastic. Wow, she’s really good.
Clyburn continues to reserve. I’m guessing it’s a song.
Mike Pence is up. “Our economy is struggling, families are hurting, and Congress is poised to demand an apology from a man who already has apologized.” He called the president’s speech “highly partisan,” which it was. He noted that Wilson apologized, and that he was right to do so.
Interesting argument — the broader national interest was served by Wilson’s outburst, Pence said. “The American people didn’t send us here to get along. They sent us here to get it right. And, ironically, because of Joe Wilson’s outburst, we’ve been engaged in a week-long debate about what’s really in H.R. 3200.” In fact, he said, we now know that there is nothing in the Democrats’ bills which require individuals to verify citizenship — confirmed by the Congressional Research Service. He pointed out that White House admitted as much last Friday.
Pence went on to describe the ineffectiveness of the stimulus package and the struggles facing people in his state of Indiana and beyond. “And, again, we’re here to demand an apology from a man who has already apologized.” Wednesday, he said, was “not a good day in this House, but today is worse.”
“I’m with Joe,” he said. “Vote ‘no.’” I’m really liking Pence recently. Barack Obama and the Democrats have brought out the best in a lot of Republicans. After we resoundingly defeat the Democrats in 2010 and in 2012, it’s up to us to ensure that they stay that way.
Boehner is wrapping up.
Nicely done by supporters of Wilson.
And now, for a song, we turn to Rep. Jim Clyburn. It’s gonna be a long one, too, as he’s reserved nearly all of his allotted time.
And, again, it’s a Democrat talking about rules and decorum. Unbelievable. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to hear a panel discussion on marital fidelity being given by Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford and Jim McGreevey.
And, at a little after 5:30 p.m., the resolution of disapproval has passed. I need to leave and run to class, but the last count is 150 to 126, though votes are still coming in. Still, the whole thing is sad.