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The House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday night condemning Donald Trump's racist rant telling four members of Congress to "go back" to whatever awful countries they came from. (That of course means the USA, which really is a mess.) The vote ultimately passed, largely along party lines, 240 to 187, with four Republicans and ex-R Justin Amash voting for the resolution. The vote was delayed after Republicans insisted the entire resolution, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech in favor of it, violated House rules against calling the president of the USA racist. How very uncivil of those mean Democrats!

You might think that "condemning racism" would be a fairly straightforward thing, at least if you were recently unfrozen from suspended animation, and congratulations on not getting frostbitten. Instead, it quickly descended into FRACAS AND HULLABALOO, falling just short of House members brawling or challenging each other to duels like they did in the good old days of US America.


Part The First: The Fuck-Tussle

Republican Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, a member of the prestigious Reality TV Show Alumni Caucus, offered the creative view that since Trump didn't actually name the evil congresswomen he told to leave his America, the entire controversy fell under the time-honored principle of she who smelt it, dealt it:

GOP lawmaker has a meltdown on the House floor over resolution condemning Trump's racism youtu.be

"I have looked closely at the chain of three tweets sent out by President Trump, and in those tweets I see nothing that references anybody's race, not a thing!" Duffy squeaked. All he saw was the Great Man referring to certain anti-American congresswomen, and yet somehow all the Democrats knew exactly who he meant! Obviously, that's a tacit acknowledgement Trump was right:

Who are the anti-American members of Congress? He didn't say their names, he did not say their race. But he commented on what they view, how they view America. I want immigrants to come to this country, but if you come to this country, shouldn't you love this country?

Rep. Pramila Jayapal asked for Duffy's comments to be stricken from the record for calling other members "anti-American," but after some back and forth on whether her objection was timely enough, relinquished the request.

The really big fight came over the very existence of the resolution, because its title, "Condemning President Trump's racist comments directed at Members of Congress," violated a House rule, oh the horror! To make matters worse, Nancy Pelosi called Trump's tweets racist too, while carefully phrasing her comments to avoid calling Trump himself a racist.

WATCH: Pelosi calls Trump's tweets about congresswomen 'racist' in House speech www.youtube.com

Every single member of this institution should join us in condemning the president's racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.

That drew a challenge from Georgia Republican Doug Collins, who first asked Pelosi to take that back. Nope, she said, she had cleared the remarks with the parliamentarian. Collins then demanded Pelosi's comments be "taken down" for violating the House's rules (more about that in a moment). That sparked off a frenzied hour of debate about whether the Gentlelady had pulled the president's nose, sirrah, and did she bite her thumb at him too?

All the Republican yammering about Pelosi's intolerable breach of decency over Trump's perfectly normal racism was eventually just too much for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who was presiding. He set down the gavel and said, "I abandon the chair."

Watch: House floors erupts into chaos after Pelosi's remarksyoutu.be

"I came in here to try to do this in a fair way. I kept warning both sides let's not do this, hoping we could get through," the Missouri Democrat said, referring to multiple times during the debate in which he had to admonish members for their language that didn't comply with House rules.

"We don't ever, ever, want to pass up an opportunity, it seems, to escalate. And that's what this is," he added, referring to Republicans' motion to strike Pelosi's remarks. "I dare anybody to look at any of the footage and see if there was any unfairness, but unfairness is not enough because we want to just fight."

Roll Call notes that, in recent history at least, Cleaver's giving up on the Republicans' raucous kindergarten food fight appears to be unprecedented.

Eventually, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took up the gavel and did his own parliamentary magic allowing the House to set aside the rules for the sake of condemning actual racism, and the resolution passed, hooray.

Part The Second: The Fuck Was THAT All About?

The text of the resolution itself is straightforward enough, invoking the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin D. Roosevelt's admonition, "Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists." There's even extensive quoting of Ronald Reagan's praise for new Americans, a strategic move to remind Republicans that they used to at least make a rhetorical show of support for immigration. Rachel Maddow liked the resolution enough that she read the whole darn thing on her show last night, then interviewed the resolution's primary author, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey), who came to the US as a child himself.

House Passes Resolution Condemning President Donald Trump's Racist Remarks | Rachel Maddow | MSNBCwww.youtube.com

Collins's one weird parliamentary trick, asking that Pelosi's remarks be "taken down," deserves a bit of an explainer. It's complicated and arcane, and Vox has a nice 'splainer about it here, but goes back to a rule dating partly back to Thomas Goddamn Jefferson saying that "personal abuse, innuendo, or ridicule of the President is not permitted" on the floor of the House.

It was updated in 2016 by Republicans to prohibit referring to the president as a racist, because of how Trump kept saying racist things. Once he was elected, he kept pushing racist policies. Republicans didn't like Democrats calling those racist things racist, so they changed the rules:

Yes, that's exactly right, kids. Since Donald Trump was nominated, Republicans have been very careful to rule that calling any president a racist on the floor is not allowed.

For her part, Pelosi wasn't at all concerned about having violated a load of "rules" put in place to protect one particular racist. She simply noted, "I don't think any of the words that the president used would've stood up [on] the floor."

Still, for the vote to go forward, Hoyer did have to do that one-off suspension of the rules, which prompted Collins to issue a statement stained with big wet tears over what a sad, sad pass the House had come to:

I was compelled to demand that the House enforce the rules against Speaker Pelosi, for her deliberate attack on the president. Democrats admitted her words violated the rules of decorum, the very rules that ensure democracy's every voice can be heard as we carry out the people's business [...]

It bears repeating the House prizes decorum because it is a symptom of and a catalyst for a healthy, confident democracy.

And now we can move on to more important things, like where oh where has respect for decorum gone with all these Democrats who hate America being rude? They should all go back where they came from.

[Roll Call / Vox / WaPo / House Resolution 489]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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