The Stark Truth

Sometimes, the truth stings, as the following Reuters report reveals:

Democratic lawmaker’s blunt talk enrages Republicans

He’s got the demeanor of the low-key bank president he once was. But liberal Democratic Rep. Pete Stark of California knows how to enrage Republicans.

During debate on Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives on a Democratic-backed bill — which President George W. Bush vetoed — to expand health care for children from low-income families, Stark lectured Republicans:

“You don’t have money to fund the (Iraq) war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people — if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

Republicans exploded. Within minutes of Stark’s speech, they demanded an apology and a declaration that the congressman’s speech be deemed inappropriate.

That request was promptly rejected by Democrats who control the chamber.

Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the second-ranking Republican in the House, said Stark’s comments “crossed all lines of decency and decorum” and said the Californian “ought to be ashamed.” [full text]

No, the real indecency is the notion that the Representative from California who spoke from the heart “ought to be ashamed” as opposed to the 154 Republican (and 2 Democratic) Representatives, including Mr. Blunt, who ensured that millions of American children will remain uninsured for the foreseeable future and, in so doing, showed little heart. Blunt and his fellow naysayers ought to shut up and take their medicine—even while others unnecessarily go without.

3 thoughts on “The Stark Truth

  1. The “Stark incident” (perhaps a pun is intended) has many edges that rightfully be discussed. The core issues are the war and medical costs for kids. The kid cost issue is a bit more than the poor kids posture, unless one considers family incomes of more than $80,000 poverty. Indeed, with several children, and living in urban environments, $80,000 may well be inadequate.

    The second issue is war expenditures in Iraq (separated from military expenditures overall). If I remember correctly, we spend $2.3 billion a week on the Iraqi effort. The Iraqis, or some of them, seem to be stealing another $400 million in oil that ends up on the black market (ah, amother pun). Mr. Stark’s obvious gambit is: if only we were not financing the Iraq military effort–war does not really apply any more, I think, nasty as the situation is–we could pay for the medical needs of America’s poor kids, whether or not the family income level was $30,000 or I guess $80,000.

    I was unfortunate enough to catch Mr. Stark’s diatribe on that great recorder of modern political life, the cold eye of C-Span. Mostly a disorganized rant (Mr. Stark is no Lincoln or JFK), Mr. Stark’s comments added words to that seemed to say “Mr. Bush had American soldier’s heads blown up for his amusement.” Whether or not he meant this or realized what he said Mr. Stark did appear to momentarily stop and ponder to himself: “did I really say something that stupid.” He may have meant to say Mr. Bush was sending our soldiers to Iraq to be killed or maimed and should stop.

    Mr. Stark, no believer in “righteousness” himself (he is the only member of Congress to pose as a non-theist–atheist, I guess that means) with a peculiar California-esque record of left style diatribe. Thus, unlike Mr. Clinton before him, who avowed with Jesse Jackson’s help, to have rediscovered Jesus, Mr. Stark cannot therefore fall back on “it wreally wasn’t my fault, the devil made me do it.” It was intersting that the Democrat speakers who followed Mr. Statrk disavowed his Bush remarks (a pun again is intended) even before the first Republican speakers did the same.

    The issues remain of course. They are not new and are raised always in times of debated conflict. If we did not fight, “government” would/could spend the money in more worthwhile efforts for the good of all (such as more bridges to no where?). Secondly, we spend too much on the military and not ewnough for health, schools, birds, or clean streets–insert your own want list. Third, the President is an evil nut case who needs to be set straight or impeached. I suggest if we had our trusty time machine and dialed back to Richard Nixon’s administration or Lyndon Johnson’s or Harry Truman’s, or Woodrow Wilson’s, or Abraham Lincoln’s, or James Madison’s, the clothes and cast of characters might change, but the same drama would be on stage. Once again, those wise words of Clarence Darrow come to mind, “history repeats itself, that’s the trouble with history.”

  2. The issue here is balance. The Reps have used the flag and a loud patriotism for the last six years as a club to bludgeon any opposition to anything they do.

    In effect, Mr Stark has called their bluff, and in terms that the Reps have used against decorated veterans, like Max Cleland in Georgia–or John McCain, in the SC primary when Karl Rove started a whisper campaign that McCain had an illegitimate daughter by an African-American woman.

    And let’s not forget that the war is now–and has been for the last 3 years–about Mr Bush’s vanity. He refuses to admit he was wrong and insists on prolonging the agony until he is safely out of office. Then, he can complain–no doubt loudly–that he would’ve won the war but the cowardly Dems ‘cut-and-ran.’

    No doubt some of Mr Stark’s words were ill-advised. But none of them are even close to “Dead or Alive,” or “Bring ’em on.” Those pronouncements were revolting, revealing an incredibly callous–or callow?– machismo more appropriate to a Rambo movie. (And I firmly believe that Mr Bush thinks Rambo was a documentary….)

    It’s time the Dems took off the gloves. They have been much, much too reluctant to call Mr Bush and his criminal band of cronies on the carpet. The best part is that the Dems don’t have to resort to character assasination, which is the Reps’ weapon of choice. The Dems only have to speak the truth.

    Mr Stark may have gone a bit over the top. But nothing he is “directionally appropriate” as one currently says in the business world. This is in contrast to most of what Mr Bush says. Remember that the insurgency was in its “last throes” two years ago. (Yes, Cheney actually said that, but that’s a distinction w/o a difference.)

  3. Very good points Klaus and indeed Iraq just goes on and on and gets ever more complex. The bright spot of the Kurdish north is on the brink of a new disaster. This endless quagmire reaches deep into my home: a daughter who did 13 months in Iraq and a son beginning a 15 month tour. Yet whatever effectiveness Mr. Statrk may have had was lost in his very disjointed and ill-prepared remarks, more diatribe than critique. From hearing him previously, it seems he is not the most effective purveyor of a point of view and the language used was so ill advised that I think he realized his error but could not take it back.

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