The Push for a Symbolic Waste of Congressional Time

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Presidential hopeful Rick Perry has had something of a PR problem lately. Last week the Washington Post ran a front-page story about Gov. Perry entertaining lawmakers and other guests at his family hunting camp where the name “Niggerhead” was prominently displayed. The largest political backlash to date has been in the House of Representatives, where Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) put forth a resolution demanding  an apology from the governor for his association with the offensively named camp as well as a list of guests who hunted at the camp. Per Rep. Jackson:

For a governor of one of the great states of our nation to hunt at ‘niggerhead ranch,’ it’s offensive and I think that I am expressing the moral outrage of all Americans.

Ultimately, presiding officer Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KA) determined that the motion did not qualify as a House resolution because Rick Perry is not a member of the House. There was a quick two-step of appeal and motion to table, the latter which was passed with a vote split almost completely down party lines (the lone outlier was Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas.)

So exactly what purpose is served with a government mandated mea culpa?

Gov. Perry has already attempted to stem any moral outrage with several explanations: he was not personally involved in the naming, he does not actually own the camp, he continuously painted over the offending word, etc. (though oddly enough, no explanation as to why he didn’t simply have the rock removed altogether.) Nowhere in his reply is an apology, the most obvious reason being he doesn’t think he owes one for what he’s described as a “misunderstanding”. Unless the House resolution came with a time-traveling DeLorean, any forthcoming apology will come across as insincere and coerced.

And it certainly is not for the benefit of voters. Let’s face it, there is no liberal in the United States who looked at Rick Perry and thought “this is exactly what American needs right now, another conservative Christian governor from Texas running the country.” The disclosure of the Perry family hunting camp only further alienated a group of people who were never going to vote for Perry in the first place. Likewise there was no Perry supporter who wasn’t quick to swallow and regurgitate all the rationalizations that Gov. Perry offered. For the undecided, anyone swayed to ‘nay’ by the revelation of the camp probably won’t be won back over with disingenuous remorse. And if the thought of a United States President hunting at a place called “Niggerhead” didn’t raise an eyebrow, well, an apology would be a null factor as well.

At best it would have been a show of solidarity among congressional members that there is no place for racist language in America today. But considering everything the GOP has weathered in the past (including the public failure of Abstinence Only education, drug abuse by their most vociferous anti-drug zealot, and a slew of same-sex scandals), it would take a lot more than than a little accusation of racism for them to break ranks and throw one of their own under the bus of social awareness. If anything, the split vote further illustrates the die-hard partisanism that seems to be crippling our government.

So thank you, House of Representatives, for not wasting our time telling America what we already know.

Full article here.

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