When it comes to confronting its own historically low approval ratings, Congress is less of head-on type than a head-up-its-own-ass type.
That's what Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) discovered yesterday when he tried to assert privilege under Rule IX [pdf] in order to introduce a resolution declaring the government shutdown a "mark upon the dignity of the House."
To make his case, Grayson referred to the results of a recently released Public Policy Polling survey which found that Congress was less popular than a whole host of highly unappealing things such as cockroaches, toenail fungus, and hemorrhoids.
"What do you have a higher opinion of, Congress or witches? Congress, 32 percent; witches, 46 percent," Grayson said, citing the poll. "What do you have a higher opinion of, Congress or hemorrhoids? Congress, 31 percent; hemorrhoids, 53 percent. What do you have a higher opinion of, Congress or dog poop? Congress 40 percent; dog poop 47 percent."
As Grayson's excoriation of Congress grew longer, Speaker pro tempore Steve Womack's (R-AR) fuse grew shorter.
If dignity means what is the dictionary says it means—the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect—then surely the honor and worthy of honor or respect of this house has been called into question. When only seven out of 100 Americans approve of what we do, the lowest approval rating ever, then surely our dignity has been diminished and is actively being called into question. If we are to be called obstructionists, practicers of partisan petulance, if we are called an establishment that is rotten to the core, if we are leaving Americans wondering why there is so much poison in the system, then surely our dignity as a body has been diminished. If we’re accused of willingly provoking crises that suspend public services and decrease economic growth, then surely our dignity as a body has been diminished. If we cause international media outlets to refer to us as politically bankrupt and responsible for breaking America’s dignity, as a body, as a House, is being called into question—
And that's when Womack decided he couldn't handle the truth any longer, and gaveled Grayson out.
"The chair has heard enough," Womack said, brushing off Grayson's protestations.
The resolution was unsurprisingly deemed not privileged, and Grayson didn't get his vote, but the fact that Congress is less popular than dog poop is now forever in the Congressional record.