Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rep. Etheridge Goes Over the Edge

Rep. Etheridge Goes Over the Edge
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 15, 2010

In actions that should slam the lid on the Congressional career of Bob Etheridge, the seven-term Democratic Representative in North Carolina’s second district swatted a video camera, grabbed and grappled with two young men claiming to be working on a project for school.

What set the events in motion was a question by one of the youthful unidentified interviewers to the Congressman who serves on both the powerful Committee on Ways and Means as well as the House Budget Committee. “Do you support the Obama agenda?” was the question asked the 68-year-old North Carolina native who did in fact, vote for Obama-care.

The mere question served as a switch that flipped in Etheridge causing him to ask the identity of the young men no less than 13 times. While I in no way endorse Etheridge’s behavior of touching either the camera or the two young men, he was right in saying he had a right to know with whom he was talking.

Congressman Etheridge should absolutely be brought up on charges for assaulting these two youths; after all, he took a swipe at the video camera and then grabbed one of the questioners’ arms before grabbing his neck – all caught on video. A couple days later, Etheridge offered an apology about how his behavior was inappropriate, but when asked if he apologized to the two young men, the Congressman said he could not as they were still yet to be identified.

And herein lies the rub. No condoning the actions of the congressman, however, proper decorum as a journalist is to identify oneself by name and media outlet, preferably with a business card in one hand and a handshake with the other. This is why amateur so-called journalists, bloggers, anyone with a camera and a tape recorder give a bad name to professionally trained journalists who behave appropriately.

Having worked as a professional journalist for a number of years, and an award-winning one at that, I would never have approached the congressman or anyone, for that matter, the way these two amateur “photojournalists” did, by thrusting a camera in his face and hurling questions prior to identifying myself. It is perfectly correct to blame Etheridge with responsibility for his actions as long as the amateur scribes also accept irresponsibility for their lack of proper protocol. If they want to be journalists, the least they can do is act like responsible journalists and not besmirch a profession already castigated for playing fast and loose with etiquette and “gotcha” politics.

While Congressman Etheridge should be charged with assault, I do not want to see him resign. I want to see him vanquished at the ballot box in November by his Republican challenger Renee Ellmers, the Michigan native who earned a BS in nursing from Oakland University.

In addition to her nursing background, Ellmers is the Clinical Director of the Trinity Wound Care Center in Dunn, NC, has served on the Dunn Planning Board and is President-Elect of the Chamber of Commerce. Ellmers said Etheridge’s stance supporting and voting in favor of Obama-care prompted her candidacy.

Ellmers can build on her background and experience in the medical field to catapult her into a congressional seat where she can do some good fighting against the government takeover of healthcare and one-sixth of the American economy. And in doing so, she can turn an arrogant congressman and self-proclaimed part-time farmer into a full-time farmer. And that’s no bull.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

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