It reminded me of 2005, when Dick Durbin apologized for his remarks about Gitmo. Durbin's remarks were called "reprehensible" by the White House and the media echoed the line -- without ever bothering to mention how reprehensible was the policy Durbin had criticized.
Pete Stark's inflammatory comments were not especially lucid in my opinion -- he said the president sent troops to Iraq to have their heads shot off for his amusement -- but most Americans didn't consider them criminal. In a CNN poll, 88% of the respondents said they didn't think Stark should apologize. But he did anyway. With tear ducts wide open.
“I want to apologize to my colleagues — many of whom I have offended — to the president and his family and to the troops,” Stark said. He added that he hoped the apology would allow him to “become as insignificant as I should be” as the House moves forward on critical, divisive issues.Thanks, Pete. Thanks for standing up for the people who supported you! What's the matter, 88% isn't good enough for you? What do you need? 90? 95?
Stark then left the podium, wiping away tears as Democratic colleagues surrounded him with supportive handshakes.
Here's the speech Pete Stark should have delivered but didn't:
You want me to apologize. You want to censure me. You want me to take my words back.
I said what I said. Why should I pretend I didn't? What good would that do?
If you were offended, good. You deserve to be offended. More than that, you deserve to be hanged. We all do.
In 2000, we got a serial failure for president, and he was never even legitimately elected. We all knew it. Everybody in politics knew it! But we played along as if everything was just fine.
Less than a year later, our unelected president sat and listened to little children reading a book about a goat while "terrorists" hijacked airplanes and attacked us. Then he awarded Medals of Freedom to the heads of the national security agencies that had failed to protect us. And we smiled and nodded.
The administration has claimed for the past six years that it must have everything it wants, including the power to wage offensive war anywhere in the world, and the power to disregard the Constitution that we are all sworn to protect. And the administration tells us it needs these things in order to protect us. But it has never been held to account for failing to protect us six years ago.
And in those six years we have unearthed irrefutable evidence, proving in a hundred different ways that the story we've been told about those attacks must be false. But not a single member of this chamber has the courage to stand up and say so. May God have mercy on our yellow souls.
Our cruel and stupid unelected president declared limitless, endless war on the rest of the world and we gave him the money to do it -- hundreds of billions of dollars at a time, whenever he asked for it. And what's worse, we pretended we had no choice.
In 2002, in 2004, and again in 2006, we saw convincing evidence that our elections had been rigged, but we never said a word. Instead we carried on -- to our great shame -- as if our government were legitimately elected. And we kept on giving this criminal administration whatever it wanted.
We authorized warrantless surveillance, to be used against anyone, anywhere, for any reason, and with virtually no Congressional oversight. We claimed we had no choice; we had to do it, otherwise he would have canceled our summer vacation, or called us "soft on terror", or some such thing. It didn't matter that nobody would have believed him. But it did matter that we didn't want to fight. So we didn't. We had an excuse, it was a good excuse, and we used it shamelessly.
We legalized a new "definition" of torture under which the unelected president himself gets to decide what the word means, and a new system of "justice" under which people can be incarcerated indefinitely without charge or hearing or even a right of appeal. The correct word for this is "treason". And we are all guilty.
We allowed the president to claim that he could designate anyone anywhere an "enemy combatant" and have that person killed without any due process whatsoever. And when the president announced that "terrorists" had been dealt with in this way, we stood and cheered. We deserve to be hanged by the neck until dead.
Fortunately for me on this fine Beltway day, my political opponents, though they consider me their enemy, are not asking for my neck. All they're asking for is an apology. And they shall have one!
To Nancy Pelosi: The last time I checked, I didn't work for you. I work for the people of my district and the people of my state and the people of the nation, in that order -- but I do not work for you. I frankly don't give a damn what you think about my remarks, or what you think about anything else, either.
We could have had this criminal administration impeached by now if it weren't for you and your bootlicking. And I'm sorry, but you're one of the people who should be apologizing.
To George Bush: I've heard you lie so often and so hatefully about so many things that I have begun to disbelieve every single thing you say. For a moment last week I did actually believe you wanted our soldiers to get their heads blown off just for your own amusement. It is, after all, the only justification you haven't used, and I naturally assumed it was the real reason for the war.
But I was wrong about that, as so many good American citizens have informed me over the past few days. It's not only for your amusement, sir. It's also for your enrichment. And that of your "base". I'm sorry I didn't mention that last week, sir. And I apologize.
To 88% of America and 99% of the world: I am truly sorry for what America has done, for what America has become, and for what the Congress -- including me, sad and sorry Pete Stark -- have allowed this unelected president to do to this once-proud country, and to the world.
There's no way around it. We all deserve to hang. And I, for one, am dreadfully sorry.