Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Who’s Sorry Now?

From the Washington Post:

Business on the floor of the House was halted for 45 minutes yesterday after Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused Democrats of “denigrating and demonizing Christians,” prompting a furious protest from across the aisle.

The House was debating a Democratic amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill that would have required the Air Force Academy to develop a plan for preventing “coercive and abusive religious proselytizing.”

Hostettler, speaking against the amendment, asserted that “the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives” and “continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats.”

“Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians,” he said.

Yes, that’s true. Christians are such an oppressed minority here in America, and right-wing fundamentalist Jesus-shouters are banned from television, large buildings, and the halls of Congress.

Rep. David R. Obey (Wis.), ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, protested the statement, saying: “I move that the gentleman’s words be taken down.”


Yesterday, Hostettler had a choice: to agree to withdraw his words, or to stick by them and face a ruling from the chair that he had violated rules against disparaging another member on the floor. If the member’s words are taken down, it is considered a serious offense and the lawmaker would not be able to speak for the rest of the day.

Eventually, Hostettler rose and read a sentence that had been written out for him in large block letters by a young Republican floor aide: “Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the last sentence I spoke.”

Dick Durbin and I will be waiting breathlessly to see if Vice President Cheney says that Mr. Hostettler’s words were “over the top.”

You might remember Mr. Hostettler — he’s the guy who tried to board an airplane in Louisville with a loaded Glock 9mm in his briefcase. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor and received a suspended sentence. Blessed are the peacemakers.