Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Comity Channel

Watching the Health Care Reform debate the other night, I couldn't help but be stirred by the references made to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy ("Theodore," as he was called by our local FOX affiliate). Sen. Kennedy devoted his life to the fight for justice and reform, and more's the shame that his valiant fight against cancer was lost before he was able to see this day arrive.

His works live on.

But I had to do a double take as tanned, athletic House Minority Leader John Boehner spoke on the floor of the house and said that this vote would end "comity" in the halls of Congress. One had to listen to C-SPAN radio or watch C-SPAN to understand that no atmosphere of mutual respect or civility exists in those halls. Time after time, the acting speaker would pound one out on his gavel and say, "The House will come to order!"

Or not.

He didn't mean to say that anything would ever end comedy in Congress, even though he sort of put a soft "t'' in ''comity.'' I love to hear congresspersons proclaim that they yield 45 seconds of their allotted time to "the distinguished gentleman from Wyoming." I love it when Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D, D.C) gets up to speak, as I holler "Nawwwtin!" in tribute to the real Ed Norton.

Some people reach for things on the very top shelves of this grocery store we call life just to show how tall they are. Some run from place to place to show how fast they are. And of course, some of our fellow citizens just can't restrain themselves from shouting out nasty things, to show how foolish they are.

From the Associated Press:

House Minority Leader John Boehner, speaking on Meet the Press, said the anti-gay and racial epithets directed at Democratic members of Congress Saturday were "reprehensible."

Hundreds of protesters rallied at the Capitol on Saturday, chanting "kill the bill." Some protesters confronted members as they walked between their offices and the Capitol.

The Associated Press gave this account from Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind.

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., told a reporter that as he left the Cannon House Office Building with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a leader of the civil rights era, some among the crowd chanted "the N-word, the N-word, 15 times." Both Carson and Lewis are black, and Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones also said that it occurred.

"It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis," said Carson, a large former police officer who said he wasn't frightened but worried about the 70-year-old Lewis, who is twice his age. "He said it reminded him of another time."

The Washington Post said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was the target of anti-gay slurs.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who followed Boehner on Meet the Press, called the protesters who made anti-gay and racial comments "a handful of people who just got stupid."

"As leader Boehner said that's reprehensible," Steele said. "We do not support that."

And neither do I, and I agree with Messrs. Steele and Boehner on this. But I have to quibble...I don't think these are people who "just" got stupid. I think they got that way a long, long time ago, is what I think.

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