To paraphrase a line from the 1989 Batman movie: I've found a name for my pain, and it is Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). Until this past weekend, I was only mildly aware of this unit, but now that I'm fully introduced to his brand of politics and off-the-rails wingnuttery, I can neither turn away nor resist the urge to mercilessly assault him here and via social media.
I'll get into the reasons presently, but first: who is Steve Stockman?
Out of the entire roster of fringe, far-right members of Congress, Stockman is perhaps the most extreme, radical, unhinged and, quite possibly, insane of the batch. And that's no exaggeration. Sure, there's considerable competition from the usual suspects: Gohmert, Bachmann, King, Foxx and so on. But Stockman is a new superstrain of far-right radicalism -- he's a wingnut internet troll but with the power to sponsor and vote on federal legislation. It's almost as if he was genetically engineered by consortium of all the worst, most histrionic right-wing talk radio hosts, Fox News screechers, bloggers, Huff Post commenters and southern-twanged Christian fundamentalist crackpots. And this understates his awfulness.
Stockman, age 56, hails from the Texas 36th, served in Congress for one term in the middle 1990s and returned to the House this year by annihilating his Democratic opponent by a margin of 71-27. Prior to his first term in Congress, Stockman was reportedly homeless until he became a born-again Christian. During his first term in Congress, a bomb threat was delivered to his office describing an attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City. As you can guess, the message was quite possibly a warning about what would turn out to be a catastrophic terrorist attack there. Stockman's staff inexplicably sent a copy of the warning to, yes, the NRA. We don't know why. Also, during that first term, Stockman claimed that the ATF's attack upon the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas was a conspiracy by the Clinton administration to gin up support for new gun control laws.
In January, Stockman threatened to somehow impeach the president due to Obama's 23 executive orders on gun control. And you might recall Stockman's guest of honor at this year's State of the Union: Ted Nugent.
It turns out Stockman is also a prolific Twitter user and maintains two different feeds: @SteveWorks4You and @ReElectStockman. Both feeds are like a bottomless slagheap of conservative zealotry in bumper-sticker-slogan form. Literally. While reading his tweets, it was almost like I was tapping into the reptilian brain stem of the modern conservative movement. Case in point: the following tweet appeared in his @ReElectStockman feed on Friday:
This is just a taste of the incoherent extremism found in his Twitter account. Yes, there would be fewer abortions if the fetuses were armed. I'm not exactly sure what he means, other than to suggest that no one would dare to abort a fetus if the fetuses could defend themselves with guns. Clearly this is a statement about maintaining the right to bear arms for the purposes of crime prevention and self defense, but the first thing that popped into my head was that Stockman's Twitter feed might be an elaborate meta-joke carried on by an Onion-style comedy troupe seeking to undermine a Republican congressman by making him sound like an unbalanced, self-satirical freakdog. The second thing that popped into my head wasn't quite as fun to think about. It turns out that any random perusal of the news will produce countless reports about babies with guns. In recent news alone, and featuring children under the age of five:
December 5, 2012 - Minneapolis boy, 4, finds gun, shoots brother, 2, police say
January 10, 2013 - Child playing with gun accidentally shoots self
February 5, 2013 - 3-year-old S.C. boy killed after mistaking pink handgun for toy
February 24, 2013 - 4-year-old killed himself with dad's gun in N. Houston
February 22, 2013 - Boy, 2, accidentally shoots self after finding gun in mother's purse
April 8, 2013 - Tennessee deputy's wife killed by 4-year-old child handling gun
April 9, 2013 - Boy, 4, shoots and kills playmate, 6
And these weren't all of them. I stopped looking after nine, but I think you get the idea. Contrary to your disgusting bumper sticker, Mr. Stockman, babies do, in fact, have guns and the results aren't what you predicted with your self-satisfied gibberish. I wonder how many of the parents were responsible gun owners (one of the parents is a police officer). How many of the guns were concealed-carry firearms? Stockman doesn't care. He's a creature of apoplectic outrage and isn't concerned with the rational evaluation of issues or matters involving sensible policymaking. It turns out Stockman plans to use a procedural trick, a "blue slip resolution," in order to block any and all new gun control bills that come up for a vote, including the Senate bill, which, as I wrote on Friday, is mostly a pro-gun measure with the words "Second Amendment Rights Protection" in the title, along with an expansion of concealed-carry laws and no firearm bans or magazine limitations in the text. But Stockman's going to block it anyway.
Meanwhile, I'd be neglecting the full scope of Stockman's zealotry if I didn't include some other "greatest hits" from his Twitter feed, such as:
So what do we do about this guy? While too many otherwise smart people suggest we should ignore Stockman and others like him until they disappear, I believe that we should tenaciously hector and discredit these people, especially the ones who've been gifted with the privilege of being one of 535 Americans with a seat on the floor of Congress. But it's not so much about discrediting one man, however unhinged he might be, it's about continuing to discredit the modern Republican Party by calling attention to the fact that it's inextricably linked to these unwavering, irrational, uncompromising wackaloons. And the more the Republicans are marginalized, the more they'll be incapable of interfering in the universe of rational debate and lawmaking, leaving the matters of American government to cooler heads.