Florida tea partier Curt Clawson only joined Congress last month, when he was chosen to replace cocaine-addled conservative Trey Radel in a special election, but that’s no excuse for the stupid and offensive thing he did at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday.
The meeting included testimony by Nisha Biswal, who holds a senior position at the State Department, and Arun Kumar, who holds a senior position at the Commerce Department. According to Foreign Policy, Biswal and Kumar were both clearly introduced as United States officials before they began speaking. Their names and jobs also appeared on a list distributed to the lawmakers participating in the hearing. Despite all that, Clawson managed to mistake them for representatives of the Indian government because … well, they seemed pretty Indian to him!
Over the course of what FP deemed an “intensely awkward” exchange, Clawson repeatedly referenced “your country” and “your government” when asking Biswal and Kumar questions about doing business under India’s newly elected administration. Even though Kumar opened his first response with, “I was in India last week, which was the first time we were meeting with the new government [ed: emphasis ours],” Clawson still didn’t get it. The Florida man went on to ask Biswal and Kumar for “cooperation” and “commitment” from “your government,” prompting Biswal to take a long, painful pause before saying, “I think your question was to the Indian government. We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.” It was only then that Clawson started to look a little confused.
The next day, the congressman issued a statement apologizing for “speaking before being fully briefed.” Unfortunately for Clawson, any person capable of paying attention to what’s going on around them wouldn’t need a briefing to handle that situation more competently than he did.