With House Republicans maneuvering toward today’s Obamacare repeal vote, partisan passions have once again bubbled to the surface. Democrats are slamming the move as a colossal waste of time and mocking Republicans for butting their heads against a brick wall on the matter. This line of thinking ignores three factors: (1) The GOP campaigned hard against Obamacare last fall and won a resounding midterm victory, (2) this latest vote represents the first chance for newly-elected members to weigh in on Obamacare — many are eager to fulfill a campaign promise by backing repeal, and (3) at least eight of those 40-plus, supposedly quixotic repeal votes actually succeeded, dismantling parts of the law and reducing funding for it. Oh, and this time around, Republicans control the Senate, too. In any case, at a House Rules Committee meeting on Obamacare last night, Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings got snippy with a Republican colleague, leveling a memorable ad hominem attack on the entire state of Texas:
“I don’t know about in your state, which I think is a crazy state to begin with,” Hastings told Burgess. Burgess immediately took offense. “The gentleman made a very defamatory statement about my state, and I will not stand here and listen to it,” Burgess said. “As a member of Congress, I’m used to attacks and invective being tossed my way. That’s part of the territory. But there is no reason at all to impugn the people, the governor of a state of this country. And I will await the gentleman’s apology.”
Hastings shot back that Burgess could take his request for an apology and stuff it:
Burgess asks Hastings for apology over saying TX is “crazy.” Hastings: You will wait for hell to freeze over for an apology.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 2, 2015
Well then. First of all, I’m not a great fan of umbrage-taking and insincere political apologies, so I can’t muster much outrageous outrage over Hastings’ refusal to retract his juvenile smear. Secondly, the “gentleman” from Florida is aware that he’s from, well, Florida, right? Finally — and most importantly — let’s not feign shock over any display of unapologetically dishonorable conduct from this man. The Democratic Congressman began his public career as a circuit court judge, a role in which he accepted bribes, leading to his impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in 1988. He was subsequently convicted on eight articles of impeachment by the Democrat-controlled US Senate and thrown off the bench. (When Hastings sensed that an FBI sting was about to ensnare him, he fled the jurisdiction and was later caught hiding at his girlfriend’s home). Hastings, in spite of the ample evidence against him, maintained his innocence and blamed the controversy on racism. Because of course he did. Just a few years later, Hastings decided to seek a seat in the very legislative body that had recently impeached him, and Democrats in his district decided he was just the man for the job. He has served in Congress since 1993. A quick scan of Wikipedia turns up several mile posts from Hastings’ remarkable tenure in DC, including a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a female staffer in 2011, his distinction as the poorest member of Congress (thanks to the millions he owes in legal fees), and his top ranking as Congress’ most nepotistic member. He’s also a conspiracy nut who joined a handful of House Democrats to vote against certifying Ohio’s electoral votes after the 2004 presidential election. All things considered, I’d imagine that mindlessly sliming a conservative state barely registers as a blip on this bribe-taking-impeached-judge-turned-shameless-Congressman’s radar. He might be interested to know that said red state is basically 100 percent responsible for the fact that the US economy hasn’t completely circled the drain in recent years. On second thought, he almost certainly is not. And those statistics are probably racist anyway. I’ll leave you with this delightful flashback from the heady days of 2010: