Editor’s note: The following column contains language that may offend some readers.
Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark, D-Calif., is the foul-mouthed poster boy for Liberal Double Standards.
There he was on Capitol Hill last week, sounding more like Eminem than an eminent lawmaker, hurling epithets such as “fruitcake” and “c–ks—-r” at Republicans during a mark-up session on pension funds legislation of all things.
Most of the mainstream media coverage of the fracas has focused on the handling of the meeting by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, who is accused by Democrats of summoning Capitol Hill police to the scene in order to prevent the minority from meeting in a committee library to discuss procedural objections.
But while Beltway types squabble about whether Thomas was technically out of order, Stark’s blatantly thuggish behavior has once again gotten a pass from the establishment Left.
According to an official committee transcript, Stark physically taunted fellow Ways and Means Committee member Scott McInnis, R-Colo., while Thomas attempted to hold a voice vote on the bill at hand. In response to McInnis’ demand that Thomas be quiet while the bill was being read, Stark blurted out: “Oh, you think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you.”
Further goading McInnis, a married Republican gentleman, Stark lashed out: “You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake.” According to Fox News Channel, witnesses say Stark then hurled a 10-letter homophobic insult at Thomas better suited for an anti-gay rap record than the Congressional Record. Stark’s press office refused to answer my questions on the record about these remarks.
Homosexual-rights groups, whose fax machines and phone lines would have been on fire had the comments been made by any prominent conservative, shrugged at Stark’s remarks. “I think he meant nothing by it,” Human Rights Campaign official Winnie Stachelberg told Fox News. In his own defense, Stark claims “fruitcake means inept, crazy, a nut cake to me.”
No word on what liberally construed definition Stark cites for “c–ks—-r.”
And no word of protest from magazine writers at the Advocate, who went ballistic when “antigay” Texas Rangers baseball player John Rocker called a couple of restaurant patrons who were harassing him last summer “fruitcakes.”
The silence over Stark is no surprise. Liberals have long looked the other way at Stark’s bigoted boorishness over the course of his three decades in public office. In 1995, when he called Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., a “whore” for the insurance industry and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from “pillow talk” with her physician husband, not a single Democrat objected. Not one of the proud feminists on Capitol Hill signed a letter, supported by 35 Republican House members, demanding that Stark apologize.
Nor did the Congressional Black Caucus emit a peep when Stark lambasted former Bush I Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, an accomplished doctor and medical researcher, as “a disgrace to his race and his profession” because he opposed Stark’s socialist health care schemes. “I guess I should feel ashamed because Congressman Stark thinks I am not a ‘good Negro,”‘ Sullivan observed after the 1990 incident. “As a Cabinet member who has spent almost four decades of my life dedicated to healing, … [I] am unable to express my own views without being subject to race-based criticism by those who are not ready to accept independent thinking by a black man.”
Then there was the time Stark attacked former conservative California state welfare director Eloise Anderson in 1999 as a baby-killer, complaining at a public forum that she would “kill children if she had her way” simply because she opposed cradle-to-grave government welfare entitlements. Not a single finger-wagging editorial from the media elite about the need for decorum and decent behavior in public debate appeared in either the California or national op-ed pages.
The lesson couldn’t be more stark: Only the self-anointed preachers of tolerance and civility on the Left can have their fruitcake and eat it, too.