You’ve probably heard, by now, about Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who worries that a buildup of U.S. Marines in Guam might cause the tiny island to “tip over and capsize.”
If you haven’t yet seen the video, take a few minutes and watch it.
My first reaction on seeing the video, had Rep. Johnson’s demeanor not been so serious, would have been that such an obviously bizarre statement must be a joke.
Then I saw that Rep. Johnson had released the following statement:
“The subtle humor of this obviously metaphorical reference to a ship capsizing illustrated my concern about the impact of the planned military buildup on this small tropical island.”
This seems plausible except for Rep. Johnson’s seeming befuddlement during the entire exchange.
Now we find that Rep. Johnson is suffering from Hepatitis C, which in some people can result in mental confusion (h/t ConservativeLA). I wish Rep Johnson the best and will pray that he has a long, happy life despite his illness.
However, being deeply and sincerely sympathetic doesn’t mean I can ignore the fact that the exchange captured in this video is a poor use of everyone’s valuable time. If Rep. Johnson was indeed trying to voice his concern about “the impact of the planned military buildup” on Guam, he did so in the most roundabout and arcane way possible. His intentions were so obscured that I believe he failed to convey the exact nature of his concerns to Admiral Willard, who, by the end of the exchange, seemed nearly as confused as Rep. Johnson.
Rep. Johnson’s ability to bring all his faculties to bear on the serious issues our country faces has been called into question. If his confusion is a symptom of his condition, it seems to me that voter’s in his district have a right to know that his ability to represent them is being affected and whether or not his condition is likely to improve or deteriorate. If improvement is unlikely, he should be encouraged to resign. His constituents and our country deserve better and it’s no kindness to allow him to expose himself to ridicule if he’s truly doing the best he can under difficult circumstances.