Battered Spouses

by digby

Yesterday I said I felt a hissy coming on and today it's blown in with all the sincerity and gravitas of Tom DeLay speaking at a Martin Luther King day luncheon.

The Situation Room just led the half hour with this:

BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the Situation Room. One congressman is defending some words his critics are calling stupid. It involves an outburst from Democrat Pete Stark, made in the heat of a debate over health care for many of the nation's children.

Let's go straight to our congressional correspondent Dana Bash who's watching this story for us. They want him to resign...excuse me to apologize for his comments. They're condemning his comments. Tell our viewers, Dana, what's going on.

BASH: What's going Wolf is we have for the first time a comment from a member of the Demcoratic leadership on this. Majority leader Steny Hoyer, who is calling Stark's remarks unfortunate and totally inappropriate. Hoyer's also saying he's hopeful that Stark will express his regrets because he says that these comments have been a distraction and CNN is told that several Democratic lawmakers have called Stark today and made it clear that what Stark said on the House floor yesterday was hurting their cause.

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Democrats worked for months to hone their message on Children's Health, but when it came to the climactic debate, the most memorable Democratic moment was decidedly off-message;

Stark: You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're gonna spend it blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their head blown off for the president's amusement.

Republicans jumped on the tirade, issuing statement after statement calling on congressman Pete Stark to apologize. But the California Democrat refuses. In an interview with KGO radio in San Francisco, Stark would only say "do I wish that I could have kept the focus more on health care? Asolutely." Repeated answers like that prompted this from the host "Don't be Cintonesque. It's just stupid and it just gives the other side ammunition."

But Stark's Northern California district is one of the most Democratic in the nation. He says his constituents do not want him to apologize. Stark Even logged on tot he liberal blog Daily Kos where his remarks are a hit. Stark wrote, "wanted to stop by, say hello and thank you for your support."

This outburst is not Stark's first. Not even close.

The 34 year House veteran is known for having perhaps the most explosive mouth in congress. During a committee hearing two years ago, Stark called Republican Scott McGinnis "a little wimp" and "a fruitcake." And Stark has also accused Connecticut Republican Nancy Johnson of being a "whore for the insurance industry."

BASH: Now Democratic sources tell CNN that there had been talk all day long behind the scenes about just how much they do believe in Democratic leadership circles that this is hurting them and also we are told this morning that there was some hope, perhaps, that Pete Stark would come out and apologize in a more forceful way than he already has but it also became clear just in listening to Pete Stark there on the radio in San Francisco also in private conversations we're told about, that is not going to happen any time soon Wolf.

JC Watts later called Stark a "small person with a withered soul."

The Dainty Republican Fainting Couch and Circle Jerk Society is in full effect and the press is running with it as fast as their dimpled little legs can carry them. The context that would show what is really going on is right in the story, but you won't hear about it:

Republicans jumped on the tirade, issuing statement after statement calling on congressman Pete Stark to apologize.

Now why do you suppose they did this? Are these macho tough guys really offended that some congressman made these comments in a debate? Are their feelings hurt on behalf of the president? Does CNN really believe that's what's going on? Does anyone think that what Pete Stark said on the floor yesterday truly upset the Republicans? Of course not. These are the same people who spent month after month calling president Clinton a rapist and worse, for crying out loud. They are not shrinking violets who believe that there are limits to acceptable rhetoric about the president. They don't believe there are limits to any rhetoric.

Everyone knows exactly why the Republicans sent out "statement after statement" about this obscure congressman's words yesterday --- distraction. Does anyone point that out? No. In fact, the damned Democrats go right along with this nonsense and "hold meetings" and leak to the press about how they agree with the Republicans agreeing that Stark caused the distraction, and basically showing themselves to be a bunch of pathetic fumblers falling for this nonsense over and over again.

Surely, they don't think they will ever be able to stop the Republicans from finding some silly comment somewhere that they can get the vapors over do they? Are they really battered spouses trying desperately not to say or do anything that will make their vicious, bullying batterer angry?

Somebody call Dr. Phil for gawds sake. I have said it before but until the Democrats figure out how to deal with this, the Republicans are going to keep doing it. Why shouldn't they?

Update: Echidne has found another example of rudeness during the floor debate on SCHIP. I'm feeling very faint...