Thursday, October 3, 2013

Indiana Congressmen Bring Shame to Our State

Just yesterday I wrote about the claim by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Indiana) that Obamacare was “one of the most insidious laws known to man.”" So far, it doesn’t appear that Rep. Rokita has apologized for this statement. And, frankly, I’m not holding my breath waiting for that apology.

Anyway, you might think that after making such an … insidious? … statement — and being called out for it across the Internet — Rep. Rokita would, perhaps, try to be a bit more careful with his language, right? Well, have no fear. Rep. Rokita appears to have no filter between his mouth and whatever organ may reside inside his skull. In an interview early this morning on CNN, Rep. Rokita, after regurgitating right-wing talking point after talking point (and using the word “insidious” to describe the Affordable Care Act a few more times) and then complaining about “the media” (and apparently not appreciating that CNN’s Carol Costello didn’t like his complaint) said:

Carol, you’re beautiful but you have to be honest as well.

Feel free to watch an extended clip of the interview; his statement comes at the very end (after which Costello ends the interview).

But just think about this one for a moment. After blathering on and on, spouting misinformation, disinformation, and talking points ad nauseum, Rep. Rokita calls Costello a liar and brings her appearance into the discussion. Maybe that kind of misogyny, condescension, or patronizing conduct plays well in a few remaining parts of rural Indiana, but I don’t think that it will sit well with any Hoosier who stops and thinks about it for a moment. Can you imagine Costello responding, “Gee, Congressman, you’ve got great abs, but you’re a lying jackass”? A term has been coined to refer to men “explaining” facts to women like in this sort of condescending manner: “Mansplaining”.

Shortly before publishing this post, I came across the statements released by Rep. Rokita and Costello regarding the exchange:

UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): Rep. Rokita’s office sends the following statement on behalf of the congressman:

At the end of a spirited and very important debate, I was simply keeping it from unnecessarily ending in an unfriendly or contentious way. I intended no offense to Ms. Costello.

UPDATE (1:50 p.m.): In a statement, Costello said Rokita was trying to deflect questions with “flattery” and that she thinks it is not appropiate [sic] for a sitting Congressman to use “such tactics in any interview.”

Congressman Rokita seemed frustrated by my pointed questions about accepting a paycheck while hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid. It seemed to me Congressman Rokita was trying to deflect these questions with “flattery.” At that point in the interview it was obvious to me the interview was no longer valuable to my viewers. And, no, I do not think it’s appropriate for a sitting Congressman to use such tactics in any interview with a journalist.

Query: Is Rep. Rokita apologizing for commenting on Costello’s appearance or for calling her a liar? One would have to presume, given his claim that his comments were to keep the interview from “unnecessarily ending in an unfriendly or contentious way” that he is apologizing for calling her beautiful and not for telling her to be honest.

But Rep. Rokita isn’t the only member of Indiana’s Congressional delegation making … um … questionable statements. Nope. Apparently Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) was jealous of all the attention being paid to his colleague and so he decided to offer his own view of the government shutdown. Now remember: Ever since the shutdown began, Republicans have tried to convince people that the blame should be placed upon the shoulders of Senate Democrats and President Obama. But here is what Rep. Stutzman told the Washington Examiner:

“We’re not going to be disrespected,” conservative Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., added. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Please read that quote several times. It really does an amazing job of summing up the entire showdown in just a few words. Rep. Stutzman doesn’t want to be disrespected, he wants “something” from the shutdown, but he doesn’t know what. Beyond amazing. Or should I say disgusting. Pick your descriptor.

As Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas, writing for The Washington Post note:

Stutzman is right. The fight over the shutdown has become unmoored from any particular policy demands the GOP believes it can secure. It's become an issue of pride and politics. At this point, Republicans simply need something so they can tell themselves, and their base, that they didn't lose. They don't know what that something is, exactly. But it needs to be something. [¶] By the same token, the Democrats literally can't give them anything without losing.

Or maybe you’d prefer Derek Thompson writing for The Atlantic:

On the one hand, you could say it’s just a throwaway line. Representatives say empty, tired things every day. But quotes have a life of their own, and this one is already being hailed online as the perfect embodiment of the GOP’s bargaining position: Equal parts resolution and deep confusion. Forty-eight hours into the shutdown negotiations, one Republican stalwart’s official position is that he no longer has any idea what he’s negotiating for.

Unfortunately, across the Internet (and on Twitter in particular), these two Indiana Congressman have become the symbols of the Republican temper tantrum that has shut down our government. And each time one of these Congressman is mentioned, the State of Indiana gets dragged into the conversation. These two idiots — and the caucus of which they are a part — are becoming an unpopular laughing stock; unfortunately, they’re dragging Indiana down with them.

Update: I hit the Publish button before I’d finished the post… Re-posted with final corrections and edits.

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