Thursday, November 24, 2011

Arrogance of Congress on Display in Testimony of Douglas Brinkley and Rep. Don Young (R, Al)

Just Who Elects These People Anyway

Lest anyone believe that elected officials are in Washington to do the people’s business we have an exchange between Professor Douglas Brinkley who was invited to testify before a House committee and Rep. Don Young from Alaska who did not like Professor Brinkley’s testimony, or even remember his name correctly.

Backdrop: Brinkley, a Rice University professor, wants President Obama to grant the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge national monument status, which would block efforts to drill for oil and gas there. Young supports drilling.

Here’s a brief snippet of how things went.

After Brinkley’s testimony, Young was given his time to comment, calling the debate an “exercise in futility” where both sides have mad up their minds, “and the, I call it garbage, Dr. Rice, that comes from the mouth —”

Brinkley broke in to correct: “Dr. Brinkley. Rice is a university.”

It’s highly unusual for a witness to interrupt a congressman. Young roared: “I’ll say anything I want to say! You just be quiet!”

Now a normal person would have stoped and apologized for confusing the witness’s name with the University he works for, but of course Members of Congress are not normal people (exhibit number 1, Michele Bachmann).  In Congress’s world they are royalty and the rest of us merely on the planet to do their bidding.  Here’s some more.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the committee chairman tried to gavel things back to order, gently warning Brinkley that he’d get his time.

Brinkley, seething: “He called me Mr. Rice. I needed to correct the record.”

Hastings defended his colleague’s error: “From time to time, we make faux pas. Nobody is perfect here. But to interrupt breaks the comity of what we’re trying. . . We’re going to have disagreements here, you’ve already seen that.”

Brinkley: “He called me Mr. Rice, and garbage. . .You would do that if someone did that to your name.”

“Breaks the comity?”  Anybody hear in comity in Mr. Young’s rant?  (Comity:  Def - n. pl. com·i·ties. 1. An atmosphere of social harmony. 2. See comity of nations.)

But then to expect a member of Congress to know the definition of “comity” is asking a lot, they are not elected for their intelligence you know.

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