Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.)

Worse than Joe "You Lie!" Wilson; worse than Allan "The Republicans want you to die!" Grayson. Will anyone say so?

Many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have specifically stated in the past that they have no interest in budget-balancing issues, and that their primary and over-riding objective is to keep government money flowing to their neediest constituents. That’s a narrow and irresponsible position, but defensible if your view of the duty of elected representatives is that they are only advocates for the voters who elect them, and not bound by any obligation to national welfare  as a whole. Even if one accepts this approach (shared by many in the Tea Party), it does not excuse executing that advocacy by stirring up race hatred with diatribes attributing monstrous and unjustified motivations to political adversaries.

In other words, it doesn’t excuse slanderous comments like these about the Tea Party and its adherents, issuing like flaming vomit from the uncivil mouth of Rep. Andre Carson:

“This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree. Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago. But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”

“You lie!” (Rep. Joe Wilson ) was uncivil and disrespectful, but only two words; “Republicans want you to die!”  (ex-Rep. Allan Grayson) was uncivil and idiotic, but only five words. Rep. Maxine Waters unprofessional “The Tea Party can go straight to hell” declaration expanded Congressional incivility to seven words, but they are all relatively restrained compared to Carson. Now, taking his cue from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the increasingly unhinged Nancy Pelosi, who have been resorting to alleging Republican racism in front of  African-American audiences in a desperate attempt to explain away President Obama’s leadership deficits, this prominent CBC member has obliterated all lines of civility and responsible political discourse with 85 words of lies and hate speech directed at American citizens.

Carson’s spokesman Jason Tomsci told the Washington Post that the Congressman’s remarks were in response to many of his constituents’ “frustration” over “Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.” That’s the response to frustration, is it, Congressman? Our political opponents want to lynch you?

Carson is an incompetent, unscrupulous, irresponsible disgrace, and if the Democratic Party was appropriately committed to civil discourse and fairness, it would tell him so. It won’t. That is a fact, and the implications of it are unavoidable.

Never mind.

This is another in a series of integrity tests for the chattering class, every one of which they have so far  flunked. Will those—Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman, David Gregory, Paul Krugman, Joe Scarborough, John Avlon, Kathleen Parker and the rest—who once disgracefully argued that Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh’s combative rhetoric helped cause the shooting of Rep. Giffords, have the courage to condemn an African-American congressman using inflammatory rhetoric suitable for starting a race war? Or will the prospect of rising to the defense of a political movement they have attempted to smear as racist from the beginning prove too wrenching?

Who wants to bet?

14 thoughts on “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.)

  1. I’m not going to comment on the main subject of this post, because I agree with you, and agreement is not that interesting to comment about. :-p

    But I do wonder about this:

    Many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have specifically stated in the past that they have no interest in budget-balancing issues, and that their primary and over-riding objective is to keep government money flowing to their neediest constituents. That’s a narrow and irresponsible position, but defensible if your view of the duty of elected representatives is that they are only advocates for the voters who elect them, and not bound by any obligation to national welfare as a whole.

    With all respect, I’m skeptical that this is an accurate and fair summary of what “many members” have said. Which members, exactly, said this? Can you give links or quotes to support your claim?

    A slightly less extreme version of the argument you attribute to unnamed members of congress would be easily defensible on substantive policy grounds. It is, in fact, more important to support the neediest Americans (not in just one congressional district, of course, but nationwide) than it is to attempt a short-term balanced budget.

    • Fair point. The particular clip I searched for was old reliable Maxine Waters, whose exact quote—as I recall it—; was “I have absolutely no interest in balancing the budget; my concern is people.” I was going to write on it at the time, but had just nicked the CBC and felt it was time to discuss some ethics problems on the right—and were usual, there are always plenty of candidates. I have been tracking the issue, waiting for anything more than implied intent. Rep. West is the only CBC member I have been able to find who has ever delivered a quote expressing the need to reign in spending, and given the long-time agenda of the CBC: black jobs, black education, black health, black community development, black business development, all accomplished by government programs, this is hardly surprising, and I conclude, but cannot prove, that Waters speaks for the group. It’s not an especially politic orientation, but it is logical.

  2. In this statement by Waters — at a CBC event — she said:

    Why can’t we seriously talk about fiscal reforms to our massive defense budget? Why can’t we say if we got rid of the tax cuts for the wealthiest and if we got serious about ending the war in Afghanistan, which currently costs about $2 billion a week, we could make serious inroads toward getting our fiscal house in order?

    Well, I am saying it today. We are saying it together through this report and through our commitment to the American people to not balance budgets on the backs of the least of these.

    Other solutions to deficit reduction and job creation exist.

    So clearly she does favor both “deficit reduction” and reigning in spending, as well as raising taxes on wealthy Americans. You may not agree with her priorities, but her position isn’t unreasonable on its face.

    • That wasn’t the quote, which predated the current uproar over the budget, and based on her previous quote, I don’t believe her. What she is saying is that no programs should be cut, and if we have to balance the budget, do it by raising taxes on everyone but her constituency. That is superficially engaged. but nonsense. Maxine would almost certainly endorse Carson, equating cutting social programs with lynching. She might be smart enough not to say it in public, though.

      • Based on the previous quote that you put together from memory, and you can’t even prove she said? That’s not a very credible argument, Jack.

        Unless you’re convinced that your memory is flawless and you’re incapable of making an honest error, you should do the same thing I’m doing — take actual, proven quotes more seriously than half-remembered paraphrases. That’s just a matter of intellectual honesty.

        • On ridiculous statements by Waters, my memory is pretty damn good.
          She also said, during the impeachment hearings, that we had to do something about these young girls in intern positions seducing and tempting elected officials.

  3. When Maxine Waters spoke about the jobless rate and the Administration’s ineffectual attempts to address it, I thought there was some hope that national issues would actually begin to preempt racial and ethnic divides. Now with all this new race-baiting rhetoric I am rapidly losing hope. White Americans elected Obama; black Americans comprise less than 15% of the population, remember. These same people want to return to the days of Jim Crow and lynching? This is insane! Obama doesn’t belong to the CBC or anyone else, and he’s doing a great job at offending everyone without assistance from black leadership.

    With the Martin Luther King memorial now up, I am reminded of a quote (one that would never make the memorial) by King toward the end of his life. I need to find the source, but basically he said, “Until the black community can rise to the level of self-criticism, we will never be fully incorporated into the larger American society.” (The only person I can think of who has risen to that level is Bill Cosby, and of course he is now persona non grata in the black community.) King would be horrified, I think, to hear what is being said by black leadership today.

    • Without endorsing Carson’s statement in any way, he didn’t attack “White Americans” in general; he attacked Tea Party members. I don’t think many Tea Party members voted for Obama.

      Something like 95% of Black voters in 2008 voted for Obama, versus 43% of white voters. 55% of white voters voted for McCain. So it’s not totally accurate to say that “White Americans elected Obama”; it would be more accurate to say that Obama was elected by a multi-racial coalition that included a large minority of Whites and very nearly all Black voters.

      • Come on Barry.

        The Tea Party members Carson was impugning were obviously white voters, beacuse presumably balck voters don’t want to lunch blacks. (Presumably white voters don’t want to either, but that doesn’t suit Mr. Carson’s agenda.)

        By definition, white voters did elect Obama, because without them, he would have had only12 % of the popular vote.

  4. 1. Virtually all Tea Party members are white, but it’s still illogical to treat all accusations against Tea Party members as attacking the category “White voters.” (This is just basic logic: If someone says “all plumbers are people, therefore all people are plumbers,” they’d be making the same mistake you and Elizabeth are making.)

    2. If it had only been up to white voters, McCain would now be president. Obama was elected not by Black or white Americans, but by Americans of many races.

    • 2. If it had only been up to white voters, McCain would now be president. Obama was elected not by Black or white Americans, but by Americans of many races.

      If McCain had been elected, he would have been elected by Americans of many races. Just like George W Bush was, just like Bill Clinton was, just like George Bush Sr was, just like Ronald Reagan was. The last time a President was elected by a single race was the last time there were voting restrictions on who could vote….and maybe not even then.

      This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow.

      Invoke white on black racism to the mind….

      Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens.

      Who is “us” and who is “these folks”? Undeniably, “us” refers to people with a darker skin tone than “these folks”.

      Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree.

      So, if the Tea Party wasn’t “these folks” wanting to make “us” second class citizens, it’s only because “they” want “us” to be lynched in classical white on black violence.

      Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago.

      Does he even have any evidence of multiple congress people yearning for a turn back to the Jim Crow era, let alone one congress person?

      But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”

      Yup. Milk the white guilt and black anger for everything it’s worth to hide the fact that you are unqualified to lead.

    • Barry, Carson’s attack was against white Tea Party members, who are also white voters. I didn’t say all white voters. This is the Whoopie Goldberg fallacy. If Bill O’Reilly says ” Muslims attacked us on 9-11,” that is 100% true. It doesn’t mean all, Muslims, but the fact still stands.

  5. This is another in a series of integrity tests for the chattering class, every one of which they have so far flunked. Will those—Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman, David Gregory, Paul Krugman, Joe Scarborough, John Avlon, Kathleen Parker and the rest—who once disgracefully argued that Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh’s combative rhetoric helped cause the shooting of Rep. Giffords, have the courage to condemn an African-American congressman using inflammatory rhetoric suitable for starting a race war? Or will the prospect of rising to the defense of a political movement they have attempted to smear as racist from the beginning prove too wrenching?

    I would bet on the opposite.

    Michelle Bachmann would benefit from this quote, if the media was not bending over for people like Carson.

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