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Who Are You Going to Believe, Sheila Jackson Lee or Your Lying Eyes?

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Posted on August 15 2009 8:22 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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Groucho Marx Professor

For once, Sheila Jackson-Lee was channeling Groucho Marx instead of Karl Marx.

But then who could swear she knows the difference? After all, this is the Houston congresswoman who, while on a visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, famously asked if the Mars rover could send back pictures of the flag planted by Neil Armstrong.

Houston, you have a problem.

Jackson-Lee also once brightened our moods in the wake of disaster, by complaining that hurricanes are only given “lilly-white names,” and suggested that in the future the weather service should “try to be inclusive of African American names such as Keisha, Jamal and Deshawn.”

Jackson-Lee is once again front and center thanks to this video of her talking on a cell phone while a constituent who is a cancer survivor asks a question.

So, when Lee appeared with CNN Newsroom’s afternoon anchor Rick Sanchez — master of the inappropriate comment, prince of the emotional outburst, and king of the non-sequitur —  hilarity, as they used to say in old movie reviews, was bound to ensue.

Sanchez opens his cross examination assuming a fact never entered into evidence when it comes to Sheila Jackson Lee: “I gotta ask you, what were you THINKING, Congresswoman?”

Jackson-Lee tries to filibuster and talk about everything except the actions in question, rambling on about how she loves Youtube and wonders if the people who like to post things care about “ a robust public option,” and “eliminating pre-existing diseases.”

An increasingly exasperated Sanchez cannot get Jackson-Lee to respond directly to any questions about her telephone call. He asks her if it is “rude” to be on the phone while someone is asking a question, then points to the irony of her unresponsiveness, considering the subject matter: “Congresswoman, you’re absolutely ignoring my question. I don’t think that’s very nice.”

Finally, Sanchez puts it so simply and directly that Jackson-Lee is forced to respond.

SANCHEZ: I say to my children it’s impolite to text — it’s wrong to be on the phone when you’re talking to people, and it’s rude to do that especially when you’re dealing with adults. Here you have people who have come to hear you speak. They are asking you a question, and it appears on the video like you’re not giving them their due. How do you explain that?”

JACKSON-LEE: I’m so glad you said it. It “appears” on the video. Maybe it’s a doctored video.

An amazed Sanchez tries to press Jackson-Lee to address this astonishing assertion to little avail.  “Do you think the video was doctored? Do you think the video may have been doctored?” as Jackson-Lee tries to talk over him.

JACKSON-LEE: Let me say this — we who are members of Congress who believe in democracy are not going to focus on distractions. We’re really going to focus on giving the people the opportunity to express themselves in any way they desire.

SANCHEZ: Well, well, look at it. I mean — let’s — I’ll tell you what — let’s play it and you tell us if this is you or not you and if we’ve made a mistake by showing video — that may have been doctored — is there anything about this video that isn’t reflective of what happened?

JACKSON-LEE I know nothing about the video- I know nothing about the video, Rick, and I’m not going to comment on it.

Too late, Congresswoman; but thank you for providing some of the proverbial “best medicine” to the health care debate.  In cell phone text parlance: LOL.

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