House Democrat Goes Off on Republican ‘Cuckoo Clocks’

“This has nothing to do with the law. This has to do with trying to manage some of the extremists, in your party — some of the cuckoo clocks who have been talking about impeachment.”

National Journal
Billy House
See more stories about...
Billy House
July 24, 2014, 10:59 a.m.

A Mas­sachu­setts Demo­crat caused a flap Thursday at a House hear­ing when he said the real mo­tiv­a­tion be­hind Speak­er John Boehner’s planned law­suit against Pres­id­ent Obama was to ap­pease “cuckoo clocks” in the GOP who are call­ing for im­peach­ment.

“This has noth­ing to do with the law. This has to do with try­ing to man­age some of the ex­trem­ists, in your party — some of the cuckoo clocks who have been talk­ing about im­peach­ment,” said Rep. Jim McGov­ern, to Re­pub­lic­ans, dur­ing a Rules Com­mit­tee hear­ing on the planned leg­al ac­tion.

McGov­ern’s quip came on the heels of Sarah Pal­in’s call for Obama’s im­peach­ment earli­er this month in an op-ed. But the 2008 GOP vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee was not the first to do so. Over re­cent years, less­er-known GOP politi­cians, in­clud­ing some House and Sen­ate mem­bers, have oc­ca­sion­ally raised the idea of im­peach­ment — or sug­ges­ted that it should at least be con­sidered.

Pub­lished ac­counts show those in­clude Sens. Tom Coburn of Ok­lahoma, Tim Scott of South Car­o­lina, and James In­hofe of Ok­lahoma, and Reps. Blake Far­enthold of Texas, Jason Chaf­fetz of Utah, and former Reps. Tom Tan­credo of Col­or­ado and Al­len West of Flor­ida.

For his part, Boehner has re­buffed Pal­in’s call for im­peach­ment. But there has been spec­u­la­tion that his planned law­suit is an ef­fort to pla­cate such de­mands in a less polit­ic­ally com­bust­ible way — rather than be­ing a deeply felt, leg­al ef­fort to de­fend the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives from ex­ec­ut­ive over­reach.

Pre­dict­ably, McGov­ern’s “cuckoo” lan­guage at the hear­ing Thursday ruffled the feath­ers of com­mit­tee Re­pub­lic­an sit­ting across the room — while also caus­ing some con­fu­sion. After all, “cuckoo clocks” is not a very pre­cise leg­al term — cer­tainly not on the level of “locus standi,” which Boehner and House Re­pub­lic­ans will have to prove they have for a court not to quickly throw out their planned law­suit over Obama’s use of ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions.

A McGov­ern aide ex­plained later that the law­maker, in fact, was re­fer­ring to “crazy” in us­ing the term “cuckoo clocks.”

And that was clear enough after McGov­ern said it to im­me­di­ately an­ger fel­low com­mit­tee mem­ber Mi­chael Bur­gess, R-Texas — who in the past has called for Obama’s im­peach­ment.

“This is be­low this in­sti­tu­tion,” Bur­gess said of the re­mark.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pete Ses­sions took charge, turn­ing to McGov­ern and say­ing, “What we’re try­ing to do is have a hear­ing where we keep and talk about the things which are rel­ev­ant to what [the pro­posed law­suit] is about.”

“I have not, and would not like to see this com­mit­tee, on my side, to refer to people who might be on your side as cuckoos. And I do not be­lieve that is ap­pro­pri­ate,” ad­ded Ses­sions. “Gen­tle­men, let’s keep it on the level.”

McGov­ern re­spon­ded, “I’ll think of a bet­ter word if I can think of one,” even­tu­ally go­ing on to re­ph­rase what he meant as “the ir­ra­tion­al­ity among some on your side with re­gard to their hatred of this pres­id­ent.”

He ad­ded, “This pres­id­ent was elec­ted pres­id­ent not just once, but twice. The Amer­ic­an people made that de­cision. And there seems to be a re­luct­ance to ac­cept that.”

After the ex­change, the com­mit­tee pro­ceeded to ap­prove along party lines the lan­guage for a res­ol­u­tion to be voted on next week au­thor­iz­ing the law­suit.

Asked after the hear­ing about the mat­ter, Bur­gess com­plained to a re­port­er, “You heard what he said!” Bur­gess said he had ob­jec­ted to McGov­ern’s “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” de­scrip­tion “of duly elec­ted mem­bers of a body to which he is also elec­ted.”

What We're Following See More »
LOGISTICS, TRAFFIC AT ISSUE
Everyone’s Taking Their Best Shots at Philly
45 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Not since Eagles fans booed Santa Claus have this many people been dismayed at Philadelphia. Traffic gridlock, poor logistics, and the inevitable summer heat and thunderstorms are drawing the ire of convention goers, as "peeved" delegates complained about "Homerian odysseys" to get from place to place. "On Twitter, out-of-town media complained about the logistics of the convention, spread out between the sports complex in South Philadelphia, media tents a hike away, and the daytime events at the Convention Center in Center City."

Source:
PRIEST KILLED IN SMALL NORTHERN TOWN
France Wakes Up to More Terrorism
57 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Two attackers killed a priest with a blade and seriously wounded another hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before being shot dead by French police. The attack took place during morning mass at the Saint-Etienne parish church, south of Rouen in Normandy. Five people were initially taken hostage." The case has been referred to anti-terrorism officials in Paris.

Source:
6PM VOTE
Roll Call Sets the Stage for More Drama
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Sometimes, unity is procedural. Mr. Sanders’s delegates will get the chance to back him in a roll-call vote from the convention floor on Tuesday, a largely symbolic gesture intended to recognize the breadth of Mr. Sanders’s support as the former rival campaigns negotiate an awkward peace." Around 6 p.m., they'll begin calling the states to vote. Sanders won't be in a generous mood—at least at the beginning. Last night from the stage, he said, "I look forward to your votes during the roll call tomorrow night." Indeed, in 2008, Clinton herself insisted on a roll call, before halting it "midway through, asking that Mr. Obama be approved by acclamation."

Source:
“CLINTON MUST BECOME THE NEXT PRESIDENT”
Bernie Sanders Seeks to Unite the Party
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."

“MUST NEVER BE PRESIDENT”
Elizabeth Warren Goes After Donald Trump
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.

×