Andrew Malcolm at The Los Angeles Times:
First, before you watch this short but remarkable video, a little background on Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson.
He’s from Georgia’s Fourth District. A Washington, D.C. native, he’s the fellow who took office in 2007 after knocking off former five-term Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney.
A former county judge, the 55-year-old is an attorney, a standard liberal Democrat, receiving 100 ratings from the ADA and ACLU.
In this House Armed Services Committee hearing last Friday (no, it wasn’t April Fool’s Day), Johnson was questioning Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific fleet, about the stationing of 5,000 additional U.S. Marines and their families on the western Pacific island of Guam, a 212-square-mile American territory that is 30 miles long and from four to 12 miles wide.
President Obama will visit there this summer.
Of course, since Johnson is one of 535 members of the United States Congress, everything he says is important. But pay particular attention to the congressman’s comments starting at the 1:16 mark and the pregnant pause after his stated concern and hand gestures
Christina Wilkie at The Hill:
Addressing Adm. Robert Willard, who commands the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, Johnson made a tippy motion with his hands and said sternly, “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”
Willard paused and said: “We don’t anticipate that.”
Like other islands, Guam is attached to the sea floor, which makes it extremely unlikely that it will tip over, even if there are lots and lots of people on it. Guam is 30 miles long and up to 9 miles wide in certain spots, with a population of 175,000 civilians. The military is proposing the addition of 8,000 U.S. servicemembers and their families.
I especially like the way Johnson used his hands and the lean of his body to illustrate the Island’s impending list. I hear James Cameron was so impressed that he’s offering Rep. Hank Johnson (D- Obama makes the earth move under my feet) the title role in the Atlanta Little Theater’s Off-Off Broadway rendition of Titanic.
I contacted Rep. Hank (D-Goin’ down for the third time) Johnson’s office and asked them if the good Representative had any other fears he wished to share. I was told that Rep. Johnson also fears:
-Future missions to the moon will cause Earth’s satellite to “go all crazy and spin out of orbit”
-Drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge will mean “heavy drilling equipment will cause the poles to shift and Kansas City will end up as the new North Pole”
-Excessive use of the office microwave will cause “the oxygen in the oven to interact with the atmosphere, making it overheat and burn away.”
Rory Cooper at Heritage:
What doesn’t make this a laughing matter is that this committee discussion has real military policy implications. As the Admiral points out to Congressman Johnson in the video, Guam “is part of our nation.”
Mark Steyn at The Corner:
Presumably, when you’re the head guy of a major fleet for a big-time navy, you’ve got plenty of other ways of filling your time other than reassuring congressmen on whether miscellaneous land masses are likely to tip over and sink. But it’s business as usual in Congress. The Toyota execs hauled up to account for an entirely mythical epidemic of runaway Priuses surely had similar feelings — as will the Verizon/Caterpillar/John Deere CEOs summoned by Henry Waxman to explain why they had the lèse-majesté to factor the costs of Obamacare into their federally required earnings statements.
I understand Representative Johnson is ill. The fact that this plea is entered in mitigation rather than as grounds for retirement says a lot about what’s wrong with Congress.
Yes, he was an Iraq defeatist, and granted, he demagogued Joe Wilson’s outburst in the scummiest way imaginable, but he’s also a guy with a serious illness that affects his mind (“he regularly gets lost in thought in the middle of a discussion”). Although if that’s what’s going on here, a polite question for Madam Speaker arises: What’s he doing at these hearings instead of resting?
You may also remember Johnson as the man who beat Cynthia McKinney in the 2006 primary. All things considered, I think I still prefer him to her. Barely.
Advice to Johnson: Just say you didn’t mean it literally. It’s obviously a figure of speech. Guam is a tiny island, and it’s a vivid image to picture it tipping and capsizing. If you’d used a more well-worn image — like, I’m afraid the island will be crushed by over population — no one would visualize a crushing. You chose a fresh metaphor, and your listeners couldn’t handle the task of digesting it.