What does the face of a bully look like? Sorry, make that a cowardly hypocritical bully posturing for the cameras.
It looks like this --
That's Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer. It will shock you, I'm sure, to discover that the district he represents is in the Posturing Capital of the Country, Texas. No, to be clear, you might agree with Rep. Neugebauer's politics. You might agree wholeheartedly with with position on shutting down the government. But I suspect most fair-minded people will consider what he did on Wednesday more than a bit mean-spirited, bordering on creepy.
And fortunately, we have video of it.
But first, let's explain.
On Wednesday, Mr. Neugebauer joined a bunch of his fellow GOP Congressman and did what GOP Congressman so often do, wrapped themselves in the flag and war, strolling around the WWI Memorial that their actions had caused to be shut down. But Rep. Neugebauer took it a leap further. After helping force the government shutdown, he went up a National Park Service Ranger and started berating the young woman for -- I'm sorry, it's almost ludicrous typing the rest of this sentence -- being the cause of the problem, keeping the park closed because the government shutdown had closed all the parks. Making sure the camera were watching, this elected official from Texas tried to humiliate the young woman for prohibiting entrance to the closed facility, as she as a low-level employee was required to do.
"How do you look at them and... deny them access?" Neugebauer postured..
"It's difficult," the Park Service employee answered.
"Well, it should be difficult."
"It is difficult," the Ranger uniformed politely and quietly replied again, unable to say much more to a high-ranking government official who could easily get her fired. "I'm sorry, sir."
"The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves," Congressman Neugebauer snapped back.
To her great credit, the ranger seemed to finally have enough of being bullied, and as politely as possible, responded bluntly. "I'm not ashamed."
"You should be," the elected official who's actions caused the shutdown angrily berates her.
If Lewis Carroll had been around, no doubt he'd be taking notes for a surreal sequel for Wonderland.
But what made Wonderful a bit wonderful is that the public crowd around him saw all this and recognized it for the craven bullying of the poor girl by a powerful official that it was. And not being in uniform and on the job and having to take it, some of them didn't take it.
One visitor called out, "Ask those questions of the people who aren't passing the budget. That's who you need to ask these questions to."
Then, even more directly, a man moved up to Randy Neugebauer and spoke up, almost in his face "This woman is doing her job, just like me I'm a 30-year federal veteran -- I'm out of work."
"Well, the reason you are," the Republican Congressman replied, mixing up his facts, "is because Mr. Reid decided to shut down the government," ignoring the reality of all the Republican Congressman saying how they were giddily going to shut down the government.
But the gentleman had his facts straight and having no reason to back down, like the Park Ranger had to, didn't back down. "No, it's because the government won't do its job and pass a budget.".
Not wanting to actually debate the subject, and having made his swaggering camera appearance bullying a Park Service employee, Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) siddled away.
Years ago, as I've mentioned, I worked for the California State Park Service, so I have a personal empathy with park employees having to be polite and take it from rude visitors. Plus, I always liked the hat, though I was too low level and didn't get one. But I don't think you have to have worked for the park service to recognize a craven, hypocritical, posturing, cowardly bully. Whatever your politics. The only requirement is really just that you can breathe.
But the face of what that looks like? There it is again, so you can etch it in your memory. Below on the left.
As sportscasters say, let's go to the video --
Update: For comparison purposes -- after this video was made public, the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden thoughtfully contacted the park ranger who had been publicly humiliated by a U.S. Congressman and offered her his support.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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