Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Dog Bites Man, Part 2

I reported earlier, not so much on Rep. Cynthia McKinney's confrontation with Capitol police, but on the poor journalism and political demagoguery that is (forgive me) coloring it.

Today there are two more unsurprising "dog bites man" developments:

(1) House Republicans meddle in an ongoing criminal investigation and try to turn a minor incident into political hay, criminalizing politics or politicizing criminality or whatever their victimization buzzphrase is, and

(2) House Democrats, terrified of ever taking a stand on anything, variously cower in fear or actively enable the Republicans' demagoguery.

Wow. What cutting-edge news: Republicans politicize everything! Democrats cringe in fear!

I still don't take any position on who's right (McKinney or police), but I hate the way all parties -- Republicans, Democrats, and the press -- are handling what should be a straightforward police-blotter story:

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans, reacting to the confrontation last week between Rep. Cynthia McKinney and a Capitol Police officer she is accused of hitting, pressed for a resolution Tuesday to commend the police force for its professionalism.

Democratic leaders did not defend McKinney or her charge of racial profiling.

"I don't think any of it justifies hitting a police officer," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. "If it did happen I don't think it was justified."

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said all lawmakers, staffers and visitors in the building have a responsibility to obey Capitol Police. "I think we all should cooperate fully," he said.

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, had no comment, a spokesman said.

As a federal prosecutor considered whether to press assault or other charges against McKinney, Republicans were introducing their resolution.

"I don't think it's fair to attack the Capitol Police and I think it's time that we show our support for them," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a sponsor of the measure. Ignoring a police officer's order to stop, or hitting one, "is never OK," McHenry said.

McKinney is alleged to have hit a uniformed police officer who did not recognize her and asked her to stop on her way into a House office building.

McKinney says she took action in self defense after the officer inappropriately touched her. A spokesman for the congresswoman did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

The six-term Georgia Democrat says the issue is not about whether to obey a police officer's order, whether she hit him or the fact that she was not wearing the lapel pin that identifies members of Congress.

She and her lawyers have said that a series of confrontations between McKinney and U.S. Capitol and White House law enforcement officers who don't recognize her points to a pattern.

"The issue is racial profiling," McKinney, who is black, told CNN Monday.***

Republicans suggest the incident says something negative about the Democrats. A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said that a Democratic lawmaker hitting an officer does not support the minority party's claim of a commitment to security.

Pelosi last week called that argument "pathetic." She added that she would not make a big deal of what she termed "a mistake" by an officer.

The lack of Democratic support for McKinney is notable. She and her lawyer, James Myart Jr., said on Friday they expected several members of Congress to join her at a news conference that day at Howard University.

None did. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton issued a statement of concern about the incident and urged the parties to come to an agreement.

Purely rhetorical questions:

-- Why do the Republicans refuse to comment on the Valerie Plame Wilson scandal, on grounds they don't want to interfere with a pending investigation, but they will introduce legislation designed to turn sentiment against a U.S. Representative on the very day a federal prosecutor is deciding whether to press charges against her?

-- Is the real lesson here that when a Democrat fights back against law enforcement overreaching, the Republicans will villify her and the Democrats will abandon her? Shades of Feingold's censure resolution, Kerry's Alito filibuster, and 100 other good efforts either ignored or actively blocked by the cowardly lions in the Democratic caucus.

-- Will someone, anyone, slap Hastert silly for claiming that a scuffle with a cop betrays a lack of commitment to national security?



lucretia said...

I am deeply sorry you can't take a position on whether McKinney or the Capitol police are right. The Dems won't support her because they want to win and they've all been stifled by the DLC Party including Pelosi, although she acknowledged Hastert's stupid accusation.

So you hate the way this isn't treated as a straight police blotter story? It shouldn't be even that at all. How can you be so naive and run a blog like this. You are joining the Vichy Dems.

If you did your job, you would research McKinney, her stands, the 2nd election with goose-stepping black Dem opponent, showing all the reasons why Bush esp. and because of that the Vichy Dems want to get rid of her. The Capitol police were ordered to do the job they did. It doesn't need absolute proof, it requires simply taking a stand against the usual thug tactics of our dictator.

Where are you?

Anonymous said...

I can't take a position because I don't know precisely what transpired between McKinney and the police officer. I don't know where or how he touched her, I don't know whether he asked her verbally to stop first, I don't know what their protocol is when Congresspeople aren't wearing their IDs. Rather than take a knee-jerk position by assuming she's completely without fault -- which would be as reactionary as a conservative assuming the cop was completely without fault -- I'll be honest and leave the question open.

But despite my ignorance of what actually occurred, I can validly attack (a) the biased way the press is covering it, (b) the offensive way the Republicans are politicizing it, and (c) the cowardly way the Democrats are fleeing from it.

McKinney's stands, her recent election, the fact that the Bushies revile her, etc. all make me suspect that she is being targeted, if not by the Capitol police, then definitely by the Republicans who are trying to bring her down. (Of course that's why they're introducing a resolution on the matter exactly as the DA decides whether to prosecute her!) But I'm not denying that those influences exist -- I'm just saying I don't know what happened in that particular incident. Especially as a lawyer, arbitrator, and mediator, I believe my credibility hinges on my going with the facts I have, not speculation.

lucretia said...

You came across as too good I'm afraid. However, you have to state the facts as much as possible for your readers.

Your second post explains your position better about McKinney though.

However, when a superior non-vichy Dem is being attacked, I think it's not knee jerk to postulate a reasonable theory behind the action.

I sense on Daily Kos a lot of young white male anger at McKinney. You used reason in what you said in the original post although I didn't agree with it. They are using language and almost hate stuff against her. Why? I don't mind language, but not applied against someone's actions that don't call for it. I don't think white women are as subject to this anger. Maybe because white men harbor rage that blacks take jobs away from them. And of course white men take jobs away from all women.