Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 10, 2006

CLEARING THE AIR ON CAPITOL HILL....Washington is allegedly filled with smoke-filled rooms, but DC recently implemented a smoking ban for office spaces citywide. It affects everyone -- except, apparently, lawmakers on Capitol Hill who haven't decided if they'll follow the city law or not. (Congress is not automatically subject to D.C. law.)

This week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and 18 of his Democratic colleagues asked Speaker Dennis Hastert to help bring the Hill in line with the rest of the city.

"Unless you act, the Capitol Complex will soon be one of the few places in the District of Columbia where the law does not protect employees and visitors for the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," the lawmakers wrote. Congress is not subject to the D.C. law.

The Democrats single out the Speaker's Lobby off the House floor, a favorite hangout of Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other lawmakers who take breaks from the action on the floor to puff on a cigarette or cigar.

Boehner probably won't take kindly to the idea -- he's a proud chain-smoker -- but I vaguely recall the Contract with America emphasizing the importance of lawmakers following the same laws as everybody else.

I can personally think of dozens of committee hearings that I've attended in which members of the Virginia and North Carolina delegations would light up in the middle of testimony, much to the surprise of visitors who knew they couldn't legally do the same in their office.

So, how about it, Congress? Care to clear the air?

Steve Benen 10:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

Naw, man, let 'em keep smokin'. They'll die sooner.

Posted by: Farinata X on June 10, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Let the science deniers from the tobacco states poison themselves. I didn't know Boehner was a 'proud chain smoker'. That's the best news all day. His chance of becoming a 'gray eminence'/fossil fixture like Strom Thurmond is practically zero.

Posted by: david78209 on June 10, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK
but I vaguely recall the Contract with America emphasizing the importance of lawmakers following the same laws as everybody else.

I vaguely recall it emphasizing the importance of term limits too; seems that attacking what you characterize as unjust privileges of power is a lot easier when you don't actually have power.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 10, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Farinata X: Naw, man, let 'em keep smokin'. They'll die sooner.

Now that's what I call term limits.

Posted by: tripoley on June 10, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Oh geez - way to reinforce the "nanny state" meme Mr. Waxman. Can we please have Dems who will focus on real problems - or at least not be absolutely politically *stupid* when focusing on non-problems?

Posted by: chaboard on June 10, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I'm willing to claim that, on principle, Congress should have to obey the laws of the land. However, I think that this hyperactivity to ban smoking in all indoors public places is ridiculous. Moderate smoking in well-ventilated public places reserved for such purposes is not that big a deal.

Posted by: Constantine on June 10, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Think fatass Denny Hastert gives a flying f*ck about anything involving health, other than keeping his medicine cabinet stocked with Preparation H?

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on June 10, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

"Can we please have Dems who will focus on real problems" That's right. You Dems and your silly little laws.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on June 10, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

It's not just that he's a chain smoker -- Boehner has personally handed out checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor.

Posted by: KCinDC on June 10, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

IIRc, Tom Delay was asked not to smoke in a government building and his reply was "I am the government". The biggest ass ever.

Posted by: apeman on June 10, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

would lite up in the middle of testimony

"Lite" up?

Posted by: Ken on June 10, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

wasn't it a republican meme a few years ago that the democratic-controlled congress was passing all those laws while exempting themselves from those same provisions? i guess now that they're in control, being above the law when it suits their whim is just swell. and fat white guy, you're just wrong.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on June 10, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Can we please have Dems who will focus on real problems - or at least not be absolutely politically *stupid* when focusing on non-problems?

Not sure this one is politically stupid. The message that Congress exempts itself from The Little People's Laws tends to piss people off across the political spectrum. What, average Republican Citizen Joe Smoker is going to be mad that he may no longer be able to share a butt in the Speaker's Lobby, a place where he's constantly being invited to hang out?

Posted by: shortstop on June 10, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

rule of law! rule of law!

(for other people)

Posted by: craigie on June 10, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think we can all stop making references to the Republican Contract with America.

It has been broken so often so as to be null and void.

Posted by: nearlyboiledfrog on June 10, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Lite" up?

You know, it looked wrong at the time, but I somehow forgot to change it....

Posted by: Steve Benen on June 10, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

This is as good a place as any to mention my fervent hope that, someday soon, those who persecute the homosexual "deathstyle" will apply the same energy to tobacco smoking.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 10, 2006 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Since they have no qualms about violating the Constitution, why should we be surprised that they have no problem breaking their own Contract with America?

Posted by: moderleft on June 10, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I just want my fresh air ..

Posted by: infode on June 11, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Can we please have Dems who will focus on real problems - or at least not be absolutely politically *stupid* when focusing on non-problems?
Posted by: chaboard on June 10, 2006 at 11:43 AM"

Too right. If this can be played purely as Repukes-are-hypocrites and Repukes-are-exploiting-you themes, fine. But to talk about the "dangers of secondhand smoke" is just playing right into the Dem's-are-liberal-elitists-that-think-they-know-better-than-you-and-will-run-your-life themes that have helped elect Rethugs for the last decade.
Who ever would have thought that the party of the wealthy and the party of big business could EVER get away with presenting themselves as the party of personal freedom, or the party that cares about the little guy? Can we at least stop HELPING them to do so?

Posted by: smartalek on June 12, 2006 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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