Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stupid statement contest: Texas congressional delegation division

I like to write more about public policy and political science than politicians saying silly things. But living in Texas not only forces you to live with terrible public policy, but a lot of terrible officials saying terrible things to advocate for terrible public policy. To avoid going out of your mind, you just have to point derisively and mock them sometimes. One of the silver linings of having to move to Texas is that there are a lot of people to laugh at (Everything is bigger here, including the class of twit political representatives.)

Incidentally, Molly Ivins (rest her Lone-Star-swilling soul) parlayed that silver lining into a very successful career.

So follow me below the fold for this week’s six contestants for the stupidest thing said by a member of Texas’ GOP congressional delegation this week.

Contestant No. 1 is perennial contender for the dumbest person in Congress, Representative Louie Gohmert. In an interview with Glenn Beck,  (WARNING: link to the Blaze) he claims he can’t understand why anyone would close federally operated monuments after he forced the government to shut down:

The interview then turned toward a discussion of the World War II veterans who arrived to Washington, D.C. yesterday, only to find their memorial had been barricaded off due to the partial government shutdown.
“All you can figure is that somebody intentionally did this to make it difficult for World War II veterans,” Gohmert said.  “Just to create pain.  Just for political gain.”

Can I get facepalm, please?

In contrast, contestant No. 2, Representative Steve Stockman didn’t beat around the bush. Instead, he cut right to the heart of issue by accusing Democrats of physically assaulting veterans in this press release from his office:
Dear patriot,
There is no other way to put it. Democrats are curb-stomping veterans.
My father served in World War II and fought the Nazis.

He was cared for by the Veterans Administration until he passed away.

That is why I am beyond outraged at the Democrats’ vote last night to cut off funding for veterans care during a government shutdown.

Stockman gets bonus points for the both the “Nazi” reference and for the complete lack of self-awareness in referring to the benefits that socialized medicine had for his family.

Contestant No. 3,  Rep. Randy Neugebauer decided to go beyond giving interviews and actually show some personal initiative by verbally abusing a Park Ranger trying to do her job.

How do you look at them and deny [veterens attempting to visit the WWI memorial] access?” Neugebauer asked the unidentified ranger. “I don’t get that.” In his breast pocket, he carried a small American flag.
“It’s difficult,” the ranger responded.
“Well, it should be difficult,” the congressman shot back.
“It is difficult,” she reiterated. “I’m sorry, sir.”
“The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves,” Neugebauer insisted.
“I’m not ashamed,” the ranger replied.

Give ol' Randy extra style marks for singling a female ranger smaller than him to belittle. (For all you aspiring misogynistic pigs out there, this is how it is done.) 

In contrast, contestant No. 4, Houston-area Congressman John Culberson, uses a classic GOP talking tactic in his entry: the appropriation of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks for political theater. Clearly, selflessly charging a bunch of hijackers to save your fellow passengers and people on the ground is the equivalent of getting revved up in a caucus meeting to vote to deny millions of people access to health insurance.

"The whole room [shouted] 'Let's vote!' And I said, you know like 9/11, 'Let's roll!'" Culberson said.

 I just don't have a comment on that level of cluelessness.

Don't forget that the entire shutdown is over House Republican attempts to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act. Contestant No. 5, Representative Michael Burgess, is all over this, noting in a CNN interview (via ThinkProgress) that the millions of daily hits at the exchanges for are probably exaggerated:

“If you subtract out congress, members of their staff and journalists who logged in, those [site usage] numbers will be considerably lower”
Sure, while the rest of American yawned,  a few thousand staffers and journalists conspired to crash site with millions of manual hits.

Finally, it’s a principle of public relations that if you have something stupid to say, that you should pointlessly repeat it over and over and over again. So I give you a link to the transcript of contestant No. 6,  Sen. Ted Cruz’s entire speech in the Senate so you can pick out your own favorite part.


Since he’s a Democrat, from Washington, and says something smart, he’s not eligible for this week’s award. However, Representative Jim McDermott must have made Slate reporter Dave Weigel’s eyes bug out when the representative put this line on the record:

“You can’t say, OK, you get half of Obamacare—this isn’t a Solomonic decision. So we sit here until [Republicans] figure out they fuckin’ lost.”
To translate, well, actually I think McDermott is pretty clear there.

So who wins? Feel free to drop a line in the comments with your choice and reasoning.

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