GOP Rep. Thinks American Officials are From India

Rep. Curt Clawson, a Tea Party-backed Republican congressman from Florida, made a complete ass out of himself during a committee hearing by talking to two senior administration officials, both of apparent Indian descent, as though they represented the Indian government rather than ours.

The two officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are Americans who hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department, respectively. Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about “your country” and “your government,” in reference to the state of India.

“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” the Florida Republican said. “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”

Apparently confused by their Indian surnames and skin color, Clawson also asked if “their” government could loosen restrictions on U.S. capital investments in India.

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he said. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

The question prompted a lengthy pause and looks of confusion from State Department and congressional staff attending the hearing.

“I think your question is to the Indian government,” Biswal said. “We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”

Very diplomatic on the part of the two witnesses. Personally, I would have gone with, “Hey, fucking moron. We’re Americans. We were introduced to you. You have a witness sheet in front of you with our titles on it. Can you read?” To make things worse, he “repeatedly touted his deep knowledge of the Indian subcontinent and his favorite Bollywood movies.” Jesus, can we just not be the country of idiots? Just once? Is that too much to ask? Here’s video:

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • http://www.electricminstrel.com Brett McCoy

    *sigh*

  • Chris J

    Cue Clawson complaining that he is being persecuted for being “racist,” when in fact he has quite a few Indian and Indian-American friends. Maybe he’ll do something special for the Indian community to make up for his gaff, like have some curry for dinner.

  • http://blog.nikhilkrishnaswamy.com nkrishna

    Aww, I was hoping the clip would show him expounding on his favorite Bollywood flicks. No doubt having seen so many of them, he’s a scholar of Hindi as well.

  • qwints

    I enjoyed John Oliver’s take on it as well.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … can we just not be the country of idiots?

    Funny, I could’ve sworn I’ve seen our esteemed host express opinions opposing Southern secession..

  • http://www.atomiccitizen.net/ EricJohansson

    Sounds just like the Federal agent dude from the Harold and Kumar. Jeebus you can’t even parody these people anymore.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I don’t see what the fuss is about. He made one mistake.*

     

    * He ran for Congress.

  • some bastard on the internet

    It was incredibly hilarious watching this clown try to pretend that he knew they were Americans the whole time at the very end:

    “Of course….

    0_0

    …and I’m asking your opinion of how they view it.”

    >.>

    <.<

    (I think they bought it)

  • Chiroptera

    I like laughing at the antics of these clowns as much as anyone. But then I remember how real people are being harmed by the failed policies these assholes promote and the good policies they prevent. I wish we could set up some sort of completely powerless House of Lords and then make them all dukes and earls or something.

  • John Pieret

    Jesus, can we just not be the country of idiots?

    Not as long as Republican gerrymandered districts intended to concentrate idiots who will vote for teabaggers continue to stand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Jesus, can we just not be the country of idiots? Just once? Is that too much to ask?

    That ship has sailed. We’ve become a country that disdains education and expertise. In fact, we’ve reached the point where the more knowledge you have on a particular subject, the less trustworthy people regard you.

  • Trebuchet

    Not as long as Republican gerrymandered districts intended to concentrate idiots who will vote for teabaggers continue to stand.

    Sorry, have nit, must pick.

    That’s actually the opposite of how gerrymandering works. The actual scheme is to concentrate opponents into overwhelmingly uniform districts while establishing friendly districts with only moderate, but secure, majorities for your side.

  • Larry

    If you think this was bad, wait until you see his “me so solly” act when Asians appear before his committee. Clawson claims he kills with it when he does it at the country club.

  • John Pieret

    Trebuchet @ 12:

    Sorry, have nit, must pick.

    You’re right, of course, but it does require some effort to concentrate the idiots voters who favor your party to make up that secure majority.

  • timberwoof

    It was so fun seeing Arun Kumar trying not to laugh while wondering how his younger colleague will answer that question. And Nisha Biswal’s reply was so politely diplomatic that Clawson did not get it. He needs to be hit upside the head with a clue-by-four. I look forward to him stepping on his boy-parts when he tries to explain himself. I look forward to his Democratic opponent using this against him in the next campaign.

  • ianeymeaney

    I always thought that “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo” was a comedy, not a documentary. That’ll show me! Link NSFW for language:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMtP2_ARY28

  • tbp1

    Didn’t Reagan fail to recognize not only one of his Cabinet members on occasion, but also his own children?

  • Doc Bill

    For all of the GOP’s touting of “American exceptionalism,” as a whole we are a very provincial people. I have met way too many Texans who were born and raised in Texas and never been outside of the state. Not even to Oklahoma.

    What I found totally disgusting about Clawson was his fawning obsequious self-rightous smug manner. As if he needed to speak slowly and more loudly so the “bollywoods” could understand him.

    In time he may learn to be more careful, but I doubt he’s going to get any smarter.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    If only minorities would quit subbing the Republican Party by not voting for it, Republicans would finally recognize them as Americans.

  • cptdoom

    My favorite part was when Ms. Biswal finally did speak and the most generic American accent came out. You know she, like, totally hung out at the mall and complained about the mean teacher in high school. She could not be more American.

  • D. C. Sessions

    She could not be more American.

    Not without bleach, anyway.

  • smrnda

    Wow, what a a blithering idiot. I don’t think anything he said made much sense. He’s also got a smug look on his face – he could have stood to be laughed at.

  • matty1

    @17 Reagan may well have done that but knowing what we do I wouldn’t put it down to stupidity or prejudice. My gran couldn’t recognise anyone by the end

  • freehand

    d.c.wilson: Jesus, can we just not be the country of idiots? Just once? Is that too much to ask?

    .

    That ship has sailed. We’ve become a country that disdains education and expertise. In fact, we’ve reached the point where the more knowledge you have on a particular subject, the less trustworthy people regard you.

    .

    Almost. Rich people are seen as experts on economics; the right wing will not only listen to their opinions on money matters but will even trust the rich with their money.

    .

    “I’m going to have to dig up this coal on public land and sell it for a 1000% markup.”

    “OK”

    “The liberals are taking your hard-earned tax money and giving it to the poor.”

    “Damn liberals!”

  • dali70

    “… can we just not be the country of idiots?”

    What can I say… we’ve got the best government corporate money can buy.


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