Ed Driscoll

Pete Stark, Starkly Raving

As Roger L. Simon writes, leave to Congressional Democrats to find the one man who could make Washington junkies miss Charlie Rangel:

It’s only an hour or so after learning that Nancy Pelosi finally defenestrated Charlie Rangel (D-NY) from his position at the helm of the House Ways and Means Committee and I am already missing Charlie – and it’s not just because Charlie and I had such a good time together in Copenhagen.

Pelosi is replacing him with Pete Stark. Yes, you heard me correctly. The Pete Stark. Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark of California Pete Stark:

Other controversies include singling out “Jew colleagues” for blame for the Persian Gulf War and referring to Congressman Stephen Solarz of New York (who co-sponsored the Gulf War Authorization Act) as “Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces.” in 1991.[16] In 1995, during a private meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, he called Johnson a “whore for the insurance industry” and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from “pillow talk” with her husband, a physician. His press secretary, Caleb Marshall, defended him in saying, “He didn’t call her a ‘whore,’ he called her a ‘whore of the insurance industry.’”[16] In 1999, he said to former California State Welfare Director Eloise Anderson, herself a former welfare mother, that she would “kill children if she had her way” for her advocacy of welfare reform.[7] In a 2001 Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health hearing on abstinence promotion, he referred to Congressman J. C. Watts of Oklahoma, an African American, as “the current Republican Conference Chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock.”[16] In 2003, when Stark was told to “shut up” by Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado during a Ways and Means Committee meeting due to Stark’s belittling of the chairman, Bill Thomas of California, he replied, “You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake.”[16]

(that’s only a taste – there’s plenty more at the Wikipedia link)

Do these Democrats have a death wish? Have they gone completely bonkers? Or did Nancy Pelosi’s plastic surgeon misfire and accidentally inject the Botox into her brain? Whatever the case, this an extraordinary gift to the Republican Party. It’s unclear at this point whether they will use it well, but it still constitutes an amazing opportunity. On the other hand, it is a huge insult to the American people. To appoint a man of Stark’s character – a complete and utter nut job- as the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee at a moment of national economic near-catastophe is about as cynical act as I have ever seen a modern American politician perform. Since it’s Oscar season, I think we can channel Sally Field and safely say this of Pelosi: “She hates us, she really hates us!”

If Congressional Republicans were smart (and yes, that’s an oxymoron that applies to both parties these days), they’ll start doing all that they can to goad Stark into flipping his lid as many times as possible between now and the fall, to create a highlight reel ahead of the November elections. Stark’s virtually untouchable in his own Congressional district, but his potential to create plenty of damage for the rest of his party shouldn’t be underestimated.