Mel Watt had a liar on the hook and lost him

by Ogi Overman

Flipping through the channels the other day I happened upon a C-SPAN interview with our own Mel Watt, US congressman from the 12th District of North Carolina. Seems that Mel, a guy I’ve always supported irrespective of the fact that he got elected in a gerrymandered district, had gotten in a bit of hot water over some comments he made in a house committee hearing about that egomaniac with an inferiority complex who occupies the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue. He seemed to be doing a little bobbing and weaving over a parliamentary rebuke he’d received, so the next day I went to Roll Call to get the full context. During a House Judiciary Hearing that was supposed to have heard testimony from former White House counsel Harriet Miers, who was ordered by the Duhcider not to show up (She, along with Rove and Scooter, knows where the bodies are buried; how can she testify under oath?), Mel took the opportunity to recite in part (to recite in full would have required a filibuster) a litany of the “president’s” misdeeds, misstatements, miscalculations and missed opportunities, during which he said that Bush lied about the reasons for going to war with Iraq in 2003. Then Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), a well-known Bush apologist who called deposed US Attorney David Iglesias an “idiot” in a Fox Noise interview, objected, screaming that Watt’s characterization was “unparliamentary” and violated house rules on debate and decorum. After a bit of procedural wrangling a compromise was reached, which led to Watt’s wink-and-nod apology. Now, this one incident exemplifies both what’s right and what’s wrong with Congress’s relationship with the executive branch. In short, Mel was right to call Bush a liar and wrong to back down. Sure, I understand the need for decorum and adherence to Robert’s Rules of Order, and I understand Rep. Watt’s mannerly act of contrition, but had I been in his shoes I would have let Rep. Cannon take the privileged resolution to the House floor so that I could’ve gotten in a few more licks. After all, he had only mentioned a single instance in which Bush got caught in a lie, and once it is established as a statement of fact and not a personal attack, the floodgates are open for the full monty of mendacity, the directory of Duh duplicity, a foray into his facile fabrications. Hey, the Senate pulled an all-nighter last week, why not the House? Once the Dems got on a roll, a mere recitation of Bush’s mountain of deceit would stretch well into next week. But Mel wussed out. He let him off the hook, saying he didn’t mean that Bush was a general liar or that he was a dishonest person, merely that he’d spun the truth (my phrasing, not his). In typical Dem fashion, he took the argument right to the edge and then backed away, thereby letting him get away with another whopper and buy a little more time to prosecute an immoral, unwinnable war that was predicated on lies, sustained on lies and prolonged by lies. Tragically though, his lies on Iraq are but the tip of the iceberg, merely part of the pattern of disregarding the truth when it conflicts with neocon dogma. There is literally no issue that has not been sullied by his deliberate deception. The extent is unprecedented and unfathomable, and I don’t mean ill-advised policy decisions but outright misstatements of fact. Just Google any of the following words and the lies will come popping up by the thousands: WMD, yellow cake uranium, Richard C. Clarke, Social Security, embryonic stem cell research, the Kyoto Protocols, Abu Ghraib, Downing Street Memo, global warming, warrentless wiretapping, US attorney firings, overseas torture, Patriot Act, Katrina, health care, habeas corpus, signing statements, lowering pollution standards, tax cuts for the wealthy, Blue Skies Initiative, Halliburton, Jack Abramoff, drilling and logging in national parks and on and on and on. Finding falsehoods is like shooting fish in a barrel; it’s too easy, too repetitive, too much like piling on. But pile on we must. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I say it’s time to take the gloves off. Premier Bushcheneyrove had theirs off even before the 2001 inaugural, so unless we’re willing to fight a war without end in Iraq, it’s past time we do likewise. Unfortunately, it’s time to play a little gutterball with them. Our redeeming quality however, is that truth is on our side. Exposing Bush’s lies is a genuine act of patriotism. Fighting despotism with decorum has clearly not worked, so what other options are left? If the White House continues to ignore subpoenas and the will of the American people, then it’s up to the House of Representatives to fulfill its constitutional mandate and launch impeachment proceedings. His lease is up on that big house on Pennsylvania Avenue; it’s time to send him to a big house of a different sort.

Ogi may be reached at, heard Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on “Triad Today” Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV 48.