After Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) rejected Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ultimatum to offer a mea culpa on the floor of the House for his outburst during President Barack Obama’s address on Wednesday evening or face a formal admonishment, Democratic leaders are now moving to introduce a resolution to censure Wilson.
But Republican responses to the pending censure might explain why some prescient Democrats, perhaps guilty of similar actions under the last administration, were uneasy with assuming the role of disciplinarian: several key Democrats are weathering their own controversies, including Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, Jack Murtha (D-PA), and Pete Visclosky (D-IN).
“Call it the Glass House of Representatives effect,” writes Politico’s Glenn Thrush.
The censure is “another stunning example of hypocrisy,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. “Congressional Democrats are wasting taxpayers’ time and resources on a legislative measure to censure Congressman Joe Wilson so they don’t have to talk about their exceedingly unpopular health care plan.”
While the proposed censure has galvanized Republican legislative opposition to the President and Speaker Pelosi, it represented low-hanging fruit for many Capitol Hill communicators – an opportunity to revive fading Democratic controversies.
“If we are going to march Members down to the well of the House to apologize, Joe Wilson is going to have to get in line behind Nancy Pelosi, who attacked the intelligence community who protects us, Charlie Rangel who cheated on his taxes, Jack Murtha – a walking scandal, and we all know how the Democratic leadership tried to protect William Jefferson” said Steele.
Echoing Steele’s sentiment, Ken Spain of the National Republican Congressional Committee asks, “When is Nancy going to schedule a vote for Charlie Rangel?”
Despite the censure-worthy actions of Democratic members of Congress, “Nancy Pelosi continues to look the other way,” Spain added.
“The American people are still waiting for a public repudiation of the corrupt actions of Democrat members like Charlie Rangel, John Murtha, and Pete Visclosky, whose actions have truly disgraced the integrity of the People’s House that Democrats claim to be so concerned about defending.”