Scott Tibbs

Professionalism, jokes and hypersensitivity in Congress

By Scott Tibbs, December 8, 2021

Our politics - and all of life, for that matter - would be much better off if we could lighten up, learn to laugh at ourselves, and brush aside the urge to be "offended" all the time. Getting worked up over harmless jokes drives unnecessary anger and division and only encourages more trolling.

Enter Lauren Boebert, who told a satirical story about getting on an elevator only to see a police officer racing toward her as the door closed. Off to the side was Ilhan Omar, and Boebert said she was not worried because Omar did not have a backpack - meaning Omar will not be launching a terrorist bombing.

Now, should members of Congress be making these kinds of jokes about each other? No. It is unprofessional behavior to joke about a colleague being a terrorist. While it is expected that members of Congress will criticize each other over political matters, there is no need to make jokes about them being potential bombers. It does not accomplish anything, does not advance an argument, does not advance conservative policy goals or stop bad policy from passing. Also, note the J-Word in this paragraph: Joke.

Boebert did not "lie" about Omar. It was very clearly satire, not an actual accusation that a police officer was worried that Omar might be planning a terrorist attack. It was satire based on Omar's own words, because she is known for drawing moral equivalence between Islamic terrorist groups and the United States. Omar also sent a letter to a judge seeking reduced punishment for men who were convicted of trying to join the Islamic State's terror campaign. If satire is a "lie," then every single political skit on Saturday Night Live for the last 46 years are "lies," as well as innumerable jokes by stand-up comedians and in movies.

If the Left has a meltdown over a harmless joke, the proper response is to triple down and tell them to get over it. All politicians have jokes told about them. I have had much worse things said about me that what Boebert said about Omar. Boebert should not have apologized for her joke. It was a joke. Criticism of or jokes about Ilhan Omar is no more an attack on all Muslims than criticism of Rick Santorum is an attack on all Roman Catholics. Should Boebert have made the joke? No, and she should avoid doing it again. But an apology only feeds this silly victim culture.

It is absurd to strip Boebert of her committee assignments because she made a joke, unprofessional as that joke may be. This is nothing but vindictiveness from the Democratic leadership, which has showed it is incredibly thin-skinned and unable to handle some gentle ribbing. It has always been the practice to allow the opposition party to choose who will represent them on Congressional committees. But if Democrats want to play this game, then Republicans should retaliate in January 2023 if they win the House. No member of the "Squad" or current Democratic leadership will have any committee assignments.

Republicans should not bow to the pressure to punish Boebert either. Republicans have nothing to gain by punishing her, and this will only encourage Democrats to demand members be punished for any criticism they make of Democrats. Ultimately, this is a big nothing. Boebert made a joke in front of a group of supporters, at what appears to be a small gathering. If this was 20 years ago, no one would have ever known about it because no one would have recorded video with a smartphone. If the people in our political class were adults, they would have rolled their eyes and moved on. However, the adults are no longer in charge and performative "outrage" carries the day.

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