A Congressman Calls John McCain an Al-Qaida Supporter, and Other Shutdown Death Throes

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2013 4:17 PM

A Congressman Calls John McCain an Al-Qaida Supporter, and Other Shutdown Death Throes

Walking around the Values Voter Summit, one hears a lot of hopeful denial about how the shutdown need not end in a Republican defeat. The tone of the whole affair is that the Doltschuss has already been done. This was especially evident at the start of a truncated "town hall" with three conservative House Republicans. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, voted "most likely to generate a HuffPost headline if you don't count Steve Stockman," lit into "a senator from Arizona" for saying that the shutdown strategy had failed. This, said Gohmert, was from "A guy who's been to Syria and supported al-Qaida and rebels!"

McCain has been confronted this before, being told by angry Syrian Christians that he was effectively backing al-Qaida, responding that the rebels he talked to were moderates.

This whole outburst was Gohmert being Gohmert—as the questioning went on, he raged that "the president and Harry Reid should not have shut this government down!" Audience members asked their congressmen to, in the words of one woman, "stay firm, continue this fight!" It was up to Rep. Jim Jordan to explain, without being explicit that the fight would last years, and not be won this weekend.

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"You take back the Senate, bills now sit on the president's desk, and he can't hide behind Harry Reid," said Jordan, ticking off races that the GOP needed to win. "This is slow, but it's how the founders designed it."

(Editor's note: Post somewhat delayed by a successful search for a lost iPhone—preceded by the losing of the iPhone.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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