I find our local TV news here in Seattle to be very entertaining, but not in the way that the TV stations would wish. And last night, one of the stations (they’re all so interchangable I can’t even tell them apart) broadcast another unintentionally hilarious story.
Rep. Jim McDermott, Dem. WA; GOP
Anti-Christ (credit: Zverina.com)
Ah, Jim McDermott has again run afoul of the Republican ‘God Patrol.’ (see McDermott’s pledge error blamed on a childhood moment). In this case, it’s Rep. Pete Sessions (one of those ‘sharp as a tack’ Republican hayseeds who represents a lilly white suburb of Dallas). Rep. McDermott represents Seattle in the U.S. Congress (and is my Representative). It seems it was McDermott’s turn to lead the House in the Pledge of Alleigance last week and he neglected to recite the words “under God.” This, of course, is a hangin’ offense in the eyes of those GOP patriotism and virtue enforcers. As for McDermott’s constituents, it doesn’t matter for any of us. We like Jim and we like him precisely because he questions such idiotic drivel coming from the Republican side of the aisle (this incident being a case in point). In fact, McDermott’s refusal to say “under God” probably gained him votes.
Rep. Pete Sessions,
God is his co-pilot
Among the patriotic nuggets emanating from Sessions on this question is this one: “
Congressman McDermott put himself in the position of embarrassing the House and disparaging the majority of Americans who share the values expressed in the pledge.”
My only problem with McDermott is that he’s now trying to weasel out of it by saying he “forgot” the proper wording and that omitting “under God” was an unfortunate slip of the tongue. I hate when politicians do this. All he should do is state fairly and reasonably what his position is. People who matter (the voters) will accept this and move on. By fumbling around for excuses, he looks like he’s running for cover and abandoning his principles.
Anyway, what’s so sacred about the phrase “under God” in the Pledge? It is a new (1954) addition to the pledge. As eminent a Republican wag as William Safire pointed out in Of God and the Flag, the ‘new’ wording destroys the cadence of the original (“One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”). He adds, in a discussion of Michael Newdow’s Supreme Court case against the modern Pledge:
The only thing this time-wasting pest Newdow has going for him is that he’s right. Those of us who believe in God don’t need to inject our faith into a patriotic affirmation and coerce all schoolchildren into going along. The key word in the pledge is the last one.
The insertion was a mistake…
Even Safire hates “under God” in the Pledge. That’s good enough for me.
At the tail end of the news story, the news anchor added that Pete Sessions is also accusing Jim McDermott of “not crossing his heart when he recited the pledge.” WHAT?!! Here’s what I’ve got to say to Pete Sessions: go stick some pins in an Osama doll if you haven’t got anything better to do than to waste everyone’s time with this idiocy. And stop trying to make Congress and the rest of this country as jingoistically patriotic as you and your Texas constituents are.
And for more smarmy local news commentary, see Ken Schram’s typically self-righteous “takedown” of McDermott in Ken Schram Commentary: Oops, The Lie Was Too Transparent.