Censure Vote in Order for Randy Neugebauer

Randy Neugebauer: The one-man ad for the degradation of American politics.

Imagine, if you can, that a House liberal such as Barney Frank got so enraged by a Supreme Court decision that he screamed “Fascist” in reference to Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Anton Scalia. How long would it take before Fox News, the Republican National Committee, and every Teabagger, televangelist, and right-wing political action group in the country would be screaming for Frank’s head on a platter? Yet these are the same groups that have applauded Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and his March 21 outburst on the House floor when he called his colleague Bart Stupak a “baby killer.”

Stupak’s “murderous” act was to change his vote on the health care bill, which conspiracy nuts and crazy people seem to think will promote abortion. (And of course we all know there’s no abortion whatsoever under the current health care system!) Congressional rules call for decorum and courtesy in debate. There is simply no end run on this one—Randy Neugebauer’s comments were inflammatory, impolitic, abusive, undisciplined, and ill-informed. Worse, there were of a sufficiently derogatory nature that Stupak might have had a libel suit if Neugebauer had made these remarks in public without the protection of Congressional immunity.

There is only one appropriate measure: Representative Neugebauer should be censured by his House colleagues for his remarks. For those who may not know, a censure is considerably less than expulsion or impeachment. It’s a formal reprimand that is, in reality, little more than a hand slap, though it does have profound implications for future committee assignments and often jeopardizes a member’s chance of reelection. Since Neugebauer represents a particularly conservative district in Texas, it’s unlikely his reelection is in doubt, but it would provide Democrats with a highly symbolic weapon in their own reelection bids. Republicans are already vulnerable to being tarred as the party that says “no” to the future—add a dose of Newt Gingrich-style meanness to this and the GOP’s big November dreams may fade as fast as the red flush on Randy Neugebauer’s neck.

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