Of course, it was a foregone conclusion that Pete Stark would apologize. Democrats always do. I'm as disgusted by that as anyone. But in Stark's case, I think he needs to be cut a little slack. From what I've been reading, he had no intention of apologizing -- until he was told that the vote to censure him would go through unless he did. That is what a Firedoglake reader was informed when she called Stark's office to voice her displeasure at the apology:
... The person answering the phone told me that Stark had no choice; Stark was told before the vote was taken that should he not apologize, the vote to censure would pass. According to his office, that is the only reason he apologized.
Obviously, it was members of his own party who so warned Stark.
In Jane Hamsher's words: "I guess we better stop saying the House leadership can’t get anything done."
Libby Spencer agrees [my emphasis]:
Stark's emotional apology was admirably gracious. But I'm with Jane. I find a Democratic machine that would not only allow, but require, such humiliation to one [of] its own deeply offensive. If we're ever going to save the Democratic from itself, we have got to get rid of these people.
Down With Tyranny! notes the majority leader's response to Stark's apology:
Anyone want to guess who forced one of the best congressmen in America to humiliate himself and put himself on a level with someone like Mean Jean Schmidt? Was in Rahm? Hoyer? Madam Off the Table? I may have just seen a hint. CongressDaily: "Majority Leader Hoyer today said Stark's apology was 'appropriate.'"
Chris Bowers points out a rich bit of irony:
In the Ironic Vote Juxtaposition Of The Week department, yesterday evening, with roll call #985, the House unanimously passed a resolution supporting the goals of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week. This morning, for roll call #986, Republican minority leader John Boehner put forth a motion to censure Representative Pete Stark because he said words they didn't like. ...
And the Democratic leadership told him they'd make sure it passed if he did not apologize. Chris again:
We aren't ending the war, but at least we are forcing those who oppose it to apologize to Bush and other members of Congress. Can't you just picture Stark being held down by Republicans and Bush Dog freshman in Congress, telling him to stop hitting himself?
BooMan has the text of the resolution:
... Minority Leader John Boehner (pronounced: boh.ner) introduced a resolution stating, in part:"Mr. Stark, by his despicable conduct, has dishonored himself and brought discredit to the House and merits the censure of the House for the same. Resolved, that the member from California, Mr. Stark, is hereby so censured."
The resolution failed (was tabled) 196-173 but five freshman Democrats voted for it, and six Democrats voted 'present'.
Just so you know who the cowards are, here are the losers that voted against Rep. Stark.Jason Altmire (PA), Chris Carney (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Heath Shuler (NC)
And here are the cretins that voted 'present':Dan Boren (OK), Lincoln Davis (TN), Baron Hill (IN), Tim Mahoney (FL), Charlie Melancon (LA), Dennis Moore (KS)
And, just so you know, these fools hurt Rep. Stark's feelings.Though the motion amounts to a failed vote, Stark addressed fellow lawmakers afterward to apologize.
"I want to apologize first of all to my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president. his family, to the troops that may have found (offense) in my remarks as were suggested in the motion that we just voted on, and I do apologize. ... With this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and we can return to the issues that do divide us but that we can resolve," Stark said to applause.
After his mea culpa, Stark walked off the floor to the Democratic side of the chamber and for at least five minutes stood sobbing while fellow Democrats gathered around him. Reporters close to the Speaker's Lobby were not able to hear why he was crying.
No word on whether Bush cried when he realized that he's getting people's heads blown off for no better reason than his own amusement. If he's not amused, then why is he doing it?
It hurts to be strong-armed into apologizing for having said or done something you know was not wrong. Pres. Bush should be the one apologizing, but of course he won't ever do that, because as the Chief Bully, he is impervious to feelings of shame and pangs of conscience. And the Democrats who got into office on the strength of promises to stand up to the bullying now seem to have decided, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em -- as Jane Hamsher suggests in these words directed to Nancy Pelosi:
With all of the outrages perpetuated by this administration, with the abject failure of the House under your leadership to do anything that they were elected to do, I guess we’ll have to say that this is your crowning achievement — forcing Pete Stark to his knees and making him grovel before this completely lawless, warmongering and inhumane administration.
For the record, I’m offended.