Political Animal


November 02, 2011 8:30 AM The national motto is still the national motto

By Steve Benen

Following up on an item from yesterday, the House of Representatives spent a fair amount of time ignoring the major issues of the day, and instead debating a resolution “reaffirming” that “In God We Trust” is still the national motto. The measure has no force of law, was purely symbolic, was responding to a non-existent threat, and by all appearances, was a complete waste of time.

As a practical matter, the resolution effectively declared, “Just in case anyone forgot, the national motto is still the national motto.” What a valuable use of Congress’ time.

The measure was brought up on the suspension calendar, which meant it needed a two-thirds majority to pass. As Dana Milbank noted, that wasn’t much of a hurdle.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), leading the opposition, complained that, “although the American people are concerned about restoring our economy and creating jobs, today we are returning to irrelevant issues that do nothing to promote economic growth to put Americans back to work.”

But it was no use. The godless Democrats were crushed, 396 to 9, by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the God-fearing.

Here’s the roll call. Just eight Democrats and one Republican were willing to oppose this nonsense.

Also keep in mind, House Republican leaders had vowed to prohibit votes on symbolic resolutions, and even refused to consider a resolution in May honoring U.S. troops who carried out the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. And why was yesterday’s pointless posturing allowed while other gestures were prohibited? GOP leaders refused to say.

I might be slightly more sympathetic to the theatrics if there was any meaningful effort to change the national motto (which, by the way, despite what we heard yesterday, dates back to 1956, not the nation’s founding). Under those circumstances, at least pious politicians could plausibly say they were responding to some kind of organized effort.

But this was instead just a cheap charade, intended, as Milbank added, to let Republicans “tell their constituents that they are doing the Lord’s work in the Devil’s town.”

The rest of us, meanwhile, are left to look to the heavens, wondering why GOP officials make time for the national motto, but won’t work on job creation during a jobs crisis. After all, the middle class is in trouble, and the national motto is not, suggesting Republican priorities have fallen from grace.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • MattF on November 02, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Sigh. I suspect that our Congressional representatives will soon be longing for the days when their approval rating was 'way up in the high single digits.

  • Mark-NC on November 02, 2011 8:56 AM:

    "wondering why GOP officials make time for the national motto"

    NO! We wonder how it is possible that they don't give a damn about their own country.

  • c u n d gulag on November 02, 2011 8:57 AM:

    I think they're just paving the way for "In God We Trust" to be not only our "National Motto," but our 'National Birth Control Policy' as well.

  • Sean Scallon on November 02, 2011 8:57 AM:

    The one Republican, by the way, is a Ron Paul supporter.

  • FRP on November 02, 2011 8:58 AM:

    Perhaps the longing for the heady rush of the early booschie years is a more useful barometer of the silly souls of godless Washington .
    Considering the work they did for the "People" in the well studied turn of the millennium should reveal a thing or two .
    I jest , I jest , so funny ...

  • lou on November 02, 2011 9:00 AM:

    Covers for the real "in god we trust but by plutocrats we reign".

    Better be saving your seed, folks, and investing some time in the tater patch next spring.

  • berttheclock on November 02, 2011 9:01 AM:

    Next, the RepuGs in the House will take up the resolution requiring all House members to wear lapel pins reading "Gott Mit Uns".

  • berttheclock on November 02, 2011 9:13 AM:

    I'll never forget the feeling I had back in '54, while heading off to school to school to recite the new addition to the Pledge of "under God", that, finally, we would be able, as a nation, to prevail in World Wars.

  • emac on November 02, 2011 9:15 AM:

    I thought 'e pluribus unum' was the national motto .. on second thought what a ridiculous sentiment.

  • SadOldVet on November 02, 2011 9:26 AM:

    In Indiana, the state's repuke pols had "In God We Trust" put on all license plates and the only way to avoid getting that on a plate was to purchase a specialty license plate.

    It would have been appropriate for Indiana to have that on all license plates for Hoosiers if they had put the full phrase on the plate. The full phrase would have been "In God We Trust, because our driving skills are non-existent."

    Perhaps the national repukes meant "In God We Trust our economy because we don't give a sh!t about it."

  • SYSPROG on November 02, 2011 9:28 AM:

    Morons! Fools! That being said, I watched a special on meth last night and the DEA. They had successfully gotten rid of Qualudes in this country and went after the ingredient in meth (to get it outlawed) but the CONGRESS for cripes sake bowed to the pharmacutical industry and VOTED to keep the ingredient flowing. This is THEIR business? As the DEA agent said, the fact that people were dying, families being destroyed and jobs being lost, the members of Congress lived in the bubble of what the lobbyists were telling them and wouldn't listen to anything else. Sound familiar?

  • SadOldVet on November 02, 2011 9:29 AM:

    "In God We Trust to take care of the elderly, poor, and workers because we are too damn busy taking care of the wealthy."

  • berttheclock on November 02, 2011 9:31 AM:

    er, emac, apparently, it sounded too "French" to many on the right. They would prefer it to be replaced with "Citizens United".

    E plusibus unum was given the heave-ho by the decision to have "In God We Trust" save us from the evils of the Commies. BTW, it was pushed, as was "under God" by House and Senate members of The Family.

  • Peter C on November 02, 2011 9:38 AM:

    This is a 'long game' play; it is intended to make it easier in the future to claim that the US in a theocracy. If they get power, they will empty the treasury putting 'In God We Trust' on all the public buildings that they cannot close.

    Despite their prious prating, there are bits of the Constitution (and, indeed the Bible) that conservatives really hate.

    As for our economic situation, it is of little importance compared to their main objective: to achieve ideological domination despite the moral bankruptcy of their dogma.

  • SW on November 02, 2011 9:42 AM:

    I wouldn't trust that fucker any farther than I can throw him.

  • Trollop on November 02, 2011 10:07 AM:

    My new motto is "Jesus Fucking Christ, I can't believe this buttfucking Republican bullshit". Think that will fit on a placard?

  • Nero on November 02, 2011 10:20 AM:

    Has anyone seen my violin?

  • FRP on November 02, 2011 10:22 AM:

    I thought "Out of Many One" was the national motto .. on second thought what a ridiculous sentiment.

    Now what is ridiculous again ?
    If you are railing against the effort to impose tribalism in an aim to divide and conquer , why not say so ?

  • chi res on November 02, 2011 10:22 AM:

    But this was instead just a cheap charade, intended, as Milbank added, to let Republicans “tell their constituents that they are doing the Lord’s work in the Devil’s town.”

    More likely the measure was intended to "dare" Democrats to vote against it so that their republican opponents could later claim they "voted against trusting God."

  • jcricket on November 02, 2011 10:26 AM:

    Clearly, a national motto is far more important than having a work week longer than 3 days, and having to actually, you know, work.

    Next up in Boehner's list, what color Christmas lights should be used as a best defense in the War on Christmas, ans should the baby Jesus in the nativity scene have blond hair and blue eyes as He loads His AK-47 in response to three swarthy strangers in the area.

  • arkie on November 02, 2011 10:30 AM:

    In God We Trust*

    * Except in the case of attacks by Godless commies and radical Muslims which is why we spent $685 billion on defense last year.

  • smb on November 02, 2011 1:07 PM:

    What else can the Republicans do to guarantee the economy stays stagnate?

    If they are just going to waste time and money why don't they just go home and let us keep their paychecks.

  • CDW on November 02, 2011 1:18 PM:

    But what a wonderful gotcha come election time for those who voted against it. It was worthwhile for the cons who are looking for any edge in the 2012 election. No doubt they were hoping for more D noes, but what the heck...

  • Susi on November 02, 2011 4:04 PM:

    Thank you! Thank you! Our dear Congress......

    For ensuring that God has long term job security.

    Now, that we can all rest easy and celebrate God's good fortune what America really wants to know is.......

    Can we trust you to get your heads out of your asses?

    We'll be waiting.

    Thank you.

  • Rachel on November 02, 2011 4:54 PM:

    According to my congressman, Dan Lungren, this congress has already sent 12 bills for job creation to the Senate who refuses to act on them.... so maybe they think they have done enough and they have time to vote on symbollic resolutions now. Or, I heard this on Pete Dominick's program on Sirius XM Potus channel, maybe this resolution could be considered a jobs bill because someone needs to be affixing the motto to all those government buildings.

  • Doug on November 02, 2011 9:46 PM:

    I, for one, am glad the vast majority of Democrats refused to fall for Boehner & Co's juvenile tactics. It was a campaign ploy, nothing more or less, and probably done in hopes enough Democrats would vote against it to tar the entire caucus. Needless to say, he failed.
    Speaker Pelosi. It'll be very, very nice hearing it being used - AGAIN...