Last October, in the midst of the government shutdown, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said politicians needed to tone down some of the overheated rhetoric.
“Some are using extreme terms, like terrorists and hostage-takers and much worse,” he said in a video.
It was kind of amusing to hear Rep. Perry lecture about extreme political rhetoric — considering that around the same time he said this: “I will say, 'I tried.' I might fail. I might fail, but I'm not going down on my knees, Mr. Speaker. ... If I go down, I'll go down fighting.”
That almost sounds like a line from a John Wayne war flick.
Oh, and as a state representative, Rep. Perry had accused Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell of holding the state budget “hostage.”
When that inconsistency was pointed out, he apologized (sort of): “I think that was, unfortunately, probably a comment that he had been accusing us of,” Perry said of Rendell. “...It probably didn't have to be said, quite honestly. I think as a leader, it's incumbent upon us to keep the rhetoric down.”
Right. The old he-said-it-first defense — works for third-graders all the time.
Mr. Perry also said he'd grown as a statesman over the years and had learned to consider his words and “maintain the standard of decorum.”
Well, that was good to hear, considering some of his unfortunate utterances of the past.
Perhaps the most famous was this quote about guns when he was a state representative: “...We must be able not only to hunt but to protect ourselves from an overbearing government that does not do the will of the people .”
It was an odd statement coming from a representative of the government — both as an Army officer and a member of the Legislature.
He seemed to be sanctioning taking up arms against the government (presumably his own soldiers) if someone didn't like what the government was doing — as opposed to, say, reasonably debating issues and using the democratic process.
Some interpreted that as sanctioning treason — which Mr. Perry said was not what he intended, bristling at the implication.
But words mean things, and they suggest things, and you must be careful how you use them — especially if you're a congressman.
Unfortunately, Rep. Perry still has some room to grow on that front, judging from a recent comment at a Hanover town meeting.
The question of impeaching President Obama came up. He said (as he has in the past) that he didn't support such an effort. And that's a sensible position because there are no grounds for impeachment other than that some Obama haters think he represents an “overbearing government.”
Rep. Perry said an impeachment attempt would only embolden the president:
“If you're going to take out the king, you better make sure you don't fail.”
Wait, did he really just say that — about the president?
Did he suddenly slip into an episode of “The Wire” or “Game of Thrones”?
No, you don't even joke about taking out the king when referring to the president — unless you want to wind up on the no-fly list or with a one-way ticket to Gitmo.
That was a really unfortunate choice of words. At least we hope that's all it was.
Rep. Perry obviously still has some work to do on maintaining the “standard of decorum.”