Thursday, February 16, 2006

Freedom Of Speech in Congress

This is just an interesting aside. I was watching Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) speaking this morning on the floor of Congress, when she brought up an article by our good friend Thom Hartman. The article is titled, "Rumsfeld and Cheney Revive Their 70's Terror Playbook." As the representative was reading a part of the article, Dick Cheney's name came up. Immediately, the speaker of the house ordered her to suspend. As the camera panned up, you see a man who is apparently a republican lawyer, whispering into the speaker's ear. The speaker then says, and I paraphrase, "The representative may not make any references to the Vice President." Now, can anyone tell me what that is about? Since when is a speaker in Congress not allowed to refer to the Vice President? Does the same hold true for references to the President. Representative McKinney continued, saying she was just quoting from an article. The Speaker repeated the same thing about not referring to the Vice President, but representative McKinney simply continued, but first made a passing comment about the administration trying to "prevent us from speaking." It was very, very strange.


Anonymous said...

I believe it's the Senate custom, and probably their rule, not to mention each other by name. It's a way of keeping things from being too personal: they refer to each other as "the junior Senator from Alaska" etc. I've never heard of that rule being applied to others in the government, but maybe they're supposed to refer to the President and VP by title, not name.

However, when a Senator is reading an article, the rule shouldn't apply, because to substitute "the Vice President" for "Cheney" would misrepresent what the author said. So it is, indeed, another example of the cult that the Republicans are becoming. It's not Mr. Hitler, it's the Fuhrer, dammit!

Christopher said...

"The representative may not make any references to the Vice President."

The House essentially has no rules of behavior. The Senate, yes, but the House is much more unruly.

In any event, what was McKinney supposed to call Cheney?

Fatty? Dick? Shooter?


Anonymous said...

Dartanyon, you're right: I was thinking Senate, not House. I hope Randwolfe will call McKinney's office and ask WTF that was.

Randwolfe said...

Yes, I understand the "distinguished gentleman" protocol. This situation was just so odd because, as McKinney pointed out to the speaker, she was quoting from an article that referenced the V.P.

Thersites is correct in pointing out that when you are quoting from an article, you cannot just change the writer's words to fulfill some archaic rule. To my eyes, it appeared more like an attempt to disrupt McKinney's train of thought.

As far as how to address the V.P., I sort of like Shooter. Too bad Scooter is in trouble, that would be quite a pair. But perhaps the V.P. can be indicted too, then we could refer to the pair as Scooter and Shooter.