Among the most heartwarming events seen in many years on the floor of the House of Representatives came last week when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made an unexpected return to cast her first vote since being shot in the head in January. House members broke out in sustained and loud cheers, surrounded Giffords with unalloyed affection and displayed a deeply felt bipartisan joy in her amazing recovery. She still has a long way to go, to be sure, but her determination and grace in the face of extreme adversity ought to inspire even the most cynical of hearts.
Unfortunately, this happy scene represented an exception rather the rule in Congress during the tumultuous weeks leading to Tuesday’s debt-ceiling deal. And while Republicans certainly used their share of tough language against President Barack Obama, the most notable rhetorical excesses of the past week came from congressional Democrats who ought to have been doubly embarrassed to have spoken during the week of Giffords’ triumphant return.
There was, for example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to shift blame for the current economic doldrums to former President George W. Bush by absurdly claiming that 8 million jobs were lost during his tenure.
That drew a strong rebuke from PolitiFact, which noted that there actually were more people working when Bush left office than when he entered. PolitiFact handed Reid one of its uncoveted “Pants on Fire” citations as a result.
Then, Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., among many other Democrats, compared the tea party Republicans in Congress to “terrorists.” Aside from the obviously ludicrous nature of such a comparison, Doyle compounded his error by saying the tea partiers were committing their alleged terrorist acts in order to keep “the government from spending money.”
We can only wonder what Doyle’s constituents think of being represented by a man who mistakes disagreement for terrorism and who evidently is unaware that Washington will spend approximately $3.7 trillion this year despite the efforts of tea party members in Congress.
Capping it off was Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who made clear Friday that he believes people who agree with the tea party don’t deserve the same First Amendment rights as those who think as he does.
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Kerry said, “The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual. It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do.”
Apparently, Kerry doesn’t know the First Amendment is part of the same Constitution he took an oath to uphold upon becoming a U.S. senator.