Dems skip prayer breakfast over ‘baby killer’ heckler’s speech
Who could have possibly guessed that Democrats would get upset over the latest GOP tar baby trap?
“Even the Congressional Prayer Breakfast isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t safe from the poisonous partisan atmosphere gripping the Capitol,” Steven T. Dennis reports for Roll Call.
Democrats walked out of the breakfast Thursday morning after Republicans invited Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), who screamed Ã¢â‚¬Å“baby killerÃ¢â‚¬Â while Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) was speaking Sunday night during the health care debate, to speak at the breakfast.
Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio), who is co-chairman of the bipartisan breakfast, and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), who co-chaired the breakfast last year, ripped Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) for inviting Neugebauer to speak at the breakfast.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your last minute invitation to Rep. Randy Neugebauer to address our group at this morningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s breakfast was not only irresponsible, but politically tone-deaf,Ã¢â‚¬Â they wrote in a letter to Akin. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The weekly breakfast should lift us all up, rather than purposefully tear some of us down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Roll Call’s headline, “Members offer differing accounts of prayer breakfast rift,” seems an odd way to title a story about Democrats reacting in such an obvious and expected manner to the invite. The reverse would have almost definitely occurred if Democrats invited Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FLA) to address the prayer breakfast shortly after saying that the GOP health reform strategy was to let sick patients “die quickly.”
The Capitol Hill paper reported that Ã¢â‚¬â€ despite massive media coverage Ã¢â‚¬â€ Akin claimed he was unaware that Neugebauer made the comment, until informing Wilson about his choice for speaker.
“Akin said when Wilson told him that Neugebauer had made the comment and that some Democrats might be upset about him speaking at the breakfast, Akin offered to find another Republican to speak,” Roll Call notes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He said Ã¢â‚¬ËœNo, you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to get someone else,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Akin said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was counting on Charlie telling me whether it was a problem. I would have just asked somebody else.Ã¢â‚¬Â
However, that response makes no sense, since Akin said he was “counting” on Wilson to help him with a potential problem he earlier claimed he wasn’t aware about.
The Roll Call story continues, “Hillary Wicai Viers, a spokeswoman for Wilson, disputed AkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s account. She said Wilson confronted Akin on the House floor Wednesday to complain about the choice of Neugebauer, telling Akin it was a ‘poke in the eye’ to Democrats.”
The letter from Democrats to Akin continued, “Your invitation to him, particularly at a time when Mr. Neugebauer was blatantly politicizing his Sunday night outburst, severely undermined the sense of nonpartisan fellowship that Democratic and Republican leaders of the Breakfast have carefully cultivated for years. Furthermore, your personal reaction to being confronted this morning about Mr. NeugebauerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s invitation was truly beneath contempt.”
Roll Call adds, “They said Akin should be ‘setting the example for others, not lowering yourself to the derision and name-calling that brought us to this point in the first place.’Ã¢â‚¬Â
In semi-related news, a Chicago Tribune blog reports that there is a search for “a new keynote speaker for the third annual Illinois Catholics Prayer Breakfast next month,” since “Michigan Representative Bart Stupak, hailed last fall for proposing an amendment that would impose tight restrictions on abortions, has been disinvited.”
Founded in 2008, the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast invited papal biographer George Weigel as their inaugural keynote speaker. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wisc. told last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s audience that President Barack Obama, although not Catholic, was bound by the natural law of human reason like everyone else.
“It’s hard to hold President Obama accountable to a standard of understanding of the natural laws that most Catholics can’t comprehend,Ã¢â‚¬Â Morlino reportedly told guests. “We have to do a better job of teaching the natural law.”
Sullivan echoed this sentiment when explaining the decision to disinvite Stupak. He said Catholics are laboring under a generation of poor catechesis. He said that has enabled forces to divide parishioners on issues such as health care reform.