We remember when Colin Powell resigned as secretary of State for the United States government. (Bush II administration.) One of the guys on ESPN saw the news on another channel’s crawler and announced that Colin Powell had re-signed. As in renewing a football contract. Our foreign-born friends say English is one heckuva language to try to learn, and such is proven every day.
Steve Womack, the United States representative from northwest Arkansas, resigned from a steering committee recently, and we don’t mean he scored a new contract. He resigned, as in quit. Officially. With paperwork.
Paul Greenberg used to say that editors resigning from newspapers on principle is a great tradition. But we can’t recall the last time we commented on a politician resigning from a powerful committee. On principle alone. When such a resignation could be played against him back home. Steve Womack deserves more attention than he’s getting. This column won’t make that mistake again.
A book came out last week about all the amateurish nonsense before, during and after the Jan. 6 riots, when a mob was whipped up enough in Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol building, sending U.S. representatives, senators and a certain vice president running for the safe rooms. It wasn’t as much insurrection as brawl. But in brawls, people can be hurt. Several people died in the Jan. 6 frenzy. The papers are filled each day (it seems) of those going to jail for their part in it.
President Donald Trump was one of the speakers at the Jan. 6 pre-riot. But he was hardly the only one. And not the most frothing one.
The point of the Jan. 6 “rally,” we suppose, was to convince Congress, with an assist from We the People, not to certify Joe Biden’s election that particular day. Which would be extra-constitutional. And anti-democratic. And just about anti-everything-American.
There’s a particular U.S. representative from Alabama named Mo Brooks who made a speech that morning, too. According to our paper’s reporting: “After criticizing Democrats in his speech, Brooks turned his attention to his own party, saying people would learn that day which Republican senators and congressmen would vote ‘to turn America into a godless, amoral, dictatorial, oppressed and socialist nation on the decline’ or vote against ballot fraud and election theft . . . .”
And, to quote the man from ‘Bama: “And America does not need and cannot stand, cannot tolerate any more weakling, cowering, wimpy Republican congressmen and senators who covet the power and the prestige this swamp has to offer while groveling at the feet and the knees of the special-interest group masters. As such, today is important in another way. Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”
A pro-wrestling promoter couldn’t have put it better.
“He basically calls us . . . weaklings and cowards,” Rep. Womack said. “Basically threw every one of us under the bus. Just basically calling out Republicans for not being more like Mo Brooks. And that angered me that he’s out there on the Ellipse stirring up a bunch of angry people and throwing us under the bus in the process.”
At the next meeting of the Republican Steering Committee, which makes appointments to other committees, Rep. Womack criticized Rep. Brooks in the best way: by playing a recording of the man’s own speech, word-for-word.
“There were jaws dropping in there because there were a lot of my colleagues who had never heard what he said,” Steve Womack said. (See our news article over the weekend, superbly done, again, by Bill Bowden.)
The gentleman from Arkansas sought to remove the, um, guy from Alabama from the Armed Services Committee. The brass in the House, on the Republican side, postponed such talk. Then a few weeks later, Republican “leadership”–by which we mean House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R-Calif.)–walked away from such punishments for this kind of idiocy.
“I thought,” Rep. Womack said, “maybe what I need to do is just step aside from [the] steering [committee] and let somebody else do it, and that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a letter to Kevin. I hand-delivered it to the office and ended my time on the steering committee… .”
If Rep. Mo Brooks didn’t play well with others, and if he did throw colleagues under the bus–or at least under the sightseeing tour motorbus in Washington–then Steve Womack may have given him a little payback in the press. But the difference is, Steve Womack acted on principle, not politics.
And when his leadership wouldn’t budge, he resigned an important post. He wouldn’t stay for fellowship. Which reminds us of another scene from a famous play we keep quoting. But not as often as we should:
The Duke of Norfolk: “Oh confound all this! I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but–dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!”
Sir Thomas More: “And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?”
–A Man for All Seasons
Steve Womack has proven himself a man for at least this season. Arkansas should be proud to have him, and his kind, leading the rest of us.