November 29, 2005

Cleaning Up Some of the Schm…. er, Clutter

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:01 am

Did She Hear Dreier’s “Murtha is a Marine” Statement the Day Before Her Floor Speech?

Upper Arlington Progressive Action (UAPA) has charged that Jean Schmidt HAD to know that John Murtha was a Marine when she made her House Floor speech on November 18, because Congressman Richard Dreier mentioned that Murtha was a Marine in a GOP response-to-Murtha press conference held the previous day at which Ms. Schmidt also spoke.

So, as a service to readers of this blog, and in a disservice to my tired eyes, I went to C-Span, found the link to the video for the press conference (currently third item listed at link; click on it and if you have Real Player, it might work), figured out how to run Real Player on my Mac for the first time in roughly three years (memo to C-Span: Convert to mp3, mpeg, or wmv formats, PLEASE), and played the 45-minute video.

Mr. Dreier makes his statement about mentioning that John Murtha is a Marine at about the 13:30 mark. As best I can tell, Congresswoman Schmidt was not present at the time Mr. Dreier made that statement. The camera pulls back from the primary speaker periodically throughout the press conference. I saw Ms. Schmidt in none of those pullbacks; I saw plenty of other congresspersons and press people, but never saw Ms. Schmidt. It would appear that she arrived at or shortly after the 21:00 minute mark when the first wave of speakers except for J.D. Haworth and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen left the room. That first wave was replaced by the next wave (presumably including Ms. Schmidt). She made her statement at about the 26:30 mark, and almost definitely left shortly after she was done, as there were several very wide pans of nearly the entire room after that, and she was in none of them. The last 15 minutes of the 45-minute press conference consisted entirely of Q&A between the press, Mr. Haworth and Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, so it’s safe to believe every other GOP congressperson had left.

This doesn’t prove that Ms. Schmidt didn’t know that John Murtha was a Marine, but it nearly conclusively shows that if she did know it, that knowledge would not have come from the November 17 press conference, as UAPA alleges.

I would hope that UAPA will revise their story, and have asked them to do so.

(Also, if Ms. Schmidt had been there at the time of Mr. Dreier’s statement, you would think one of the 40-plus reporters who were there would have remembered it and called her on it when she denied she knew Mr. Murtha was a Marine not long after her floor speech.)

Update: David at UAPA e-mailed me at about 8:30 AM: “I have posted your feedback in full in the comments to this story and added a link to the video at CSPAN within the story.” Thank you, David. I also corrected the organization name (Upper Arlington Progressive Action) and the acronym (UAPA) in the post.

Dec. 3 Update: In her response to an audience member’s question at her South Lebanon Town Hall Meeting on Saturday morning about her November 18 House floor speech, she noted in her recitation of the previous day’s events (Nov. 17) that she went quickly into a press briefing, read a statement, and quickly left. This appears to seal the deal beyond doubt that she wasn’t there when Congressman Dreier mentioned that John Murtha was a Marine 15 minutes before she made here statement. I had a chance to ask her near the end of the question-and-answer period if she was present when Dreier made his statement, and she said she was not.

Delayed Comments about the November 22 Bill Cunningham Interview

Having spent Wednesday morning transcribing and posting the transcript and most of the next two days actually enjoying the holiday, I neglected to mention a couple of things about the interview that struck me, totally apart from the immediate and well-publicized issue of her House Floor statement.

Bill Cunningham: Now one of the Rules of the House is quoted as “The practice of this House is that a Member is not permitted to refer to another member by name. Since you did refer to that member by name, did you not know the rule and ignore it, or did you know the rule and simply forget it?
Jean Schmidt: No, when I got there nobody gave me a rule book as to what goes on on the House Floor.

It’s very difficult to describe this as anything but incredibly weak. In probably less than 90 seconds, I found the House Clerk’s main page, got to the House Rules Index, and clicked on the link for the Decorum and Debate Rule, and found the rule (1b on Decorum) that Cunningham found more detail for elsewhere (bold is mine): “Remarks in debate (which may include references to the Senate or its Members) shall be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality.” So it doesn’t take too long to figure out that you aren’t supposed to get personal, and using a person’s name is part of it. (I personally believe that by citing Danny Bubp’s statement to her, she avoided doing so, but the issue at the moment is whether or not she even knows or has read The Rules.)

Congresswoman Schmidt, maybe the reason they didn’t give you a rule book is because they assume, first, that you or one of your staff can find it on the House’s web site, and second, that you will have the initiative to ask for anything a new member needs to do their job. Here’s a helpful suggestion: See The Rules; Be The Rules.

Then there’s this:

BC: Well give me something you’ve learned.
JS: All right, (pause) there’s so many things.
BC: Pick out one or two.
JS: (long pause) Not to wear the red dress.

Not to be ready with an answer to this to-be-expected question (or not to have thought it through as a part of on-the-job learning anyway) makes me worry about whether we’ll see improvement. Congresswoman Schmidt, if you need “think on your feet” coaching, get it. There are plenty of good ones in DC.

A lot of jobs have a 90-day probationary period where the employer cuts you a little slack while you learn the ropes. Ms. Schmidt, the probationary period ends this coming Sunday. I don’t see how people who voted for you, as I did in August, can be so forgiving of any more indications of job and interview unpreparedness of the type you demonstrated last Tuesday with Mr. Cunningham.

The two items I just noted don’t change my belief that the whole incident and what followed probably helped her with GOP voters in the 2nd District, but they sure bugged me — a lot.

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9 Comments

  1. Nice catch!

    I would buy the rule line if she wasn’t serving as Speaker Pro Tem. If you take the gavel you need to know the rules. Heck, I read Roberts for a 10 minute chance to be speaker in student congress.

    Comment by Editor — November 29, 2005 @ 11:47 am

  2. #1, I don’t think she is Speaker Pro Tem.

    Google this and you see that Mike Simpson (R-ID) is Speaker Pro Tem.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 29, 2005 @ 12:09 pm

  3. Note: She HAS apparently been Speaker Pro Tem, which apparently rotates frequently.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 29, 2005 @ 12:54 pm

  4. If you ask Jean Schmidt a question that can’t be answered with, “I support President Bush/Governor Taft”, her lack of depth becomes obvious. She can’t answer simple questions.

    If it were anybody but Schmidt, I’d have a hard time believing that she couldn’t find a rule book, or at the very least just listen to other House Members on the floor and see how they conduct themselves. But this is Jean Schmidt we’re talking about. Her lack of intellect isn’t shocking, it’s expected.

    Comment by CincyJeff — November 29, 2005 @ 1:03 pm

  5. Such venom, CJ.

    I’m impressed that UAPA seemed so open to your feedback.

    Comment by Eric Kephas — November 29, 2005 @ 9:14 pm

  6. Wow, Biz. I must tell you, I spoke with some folks about you last night at a meeting of like-minded people, and the general question was, where does Bizzy find the TIME to do this stuff?

    Do tell.

    Comment by Murtha's Ghost — November 30, 2005 @ 5:01 am

  7. #6, the news comes to me, 70% I have to do anyway to stay current in my business, and WordPress is very efficient. That’s all I’ll say on that, and it’s more than I owed you.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 30, 2005 @ 12:20 pm

  8. No, I appreciate the candor. Keep up the good work. I read this blog because most of the time, it’s like a local version of Factcheck.org. Most of the time. Except when you just can’t help yourself when it comes to people you are obviously biased for/against.

    Comment by Murtha's Ghost — November 30, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

  9. #8, I’ll take your exaggeration in the other direction in stride and wish you’d be less of a ghost.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 30, 2005 @ 8:00 pm

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