They don't call us Flori-duh for nothing.
The latest inductee to the Sunshine State's face-palming club: U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson, the Bonita Springs Republican who replaced Trey Radel, the cocaine congressman busted for buying blow in Washington last year.
The scene: The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The players: Clawson and two congressional witnesses named Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar.
“I am familiar with your country; I love your country,” Clawson told them, speaking about India, which he thought was their land. “And I understand the complications of so many languages, and so many cultures, and so many histories, all rolled up in one.…”
Yes. All those languages. Like the English language. Spoken primarily in the United States. English is also a written language and, in plain English, the witness list said Biswal and Kumar, respectively, hold senior positions at the State Department and Commerce Department.
That is, Biswal and Kumar work for the U.S. government. They don't work for India. They are Americans.
But Clawson apparently didn't read the witness list's plain English. Nor did the freshman probably know that it's rare for foreign-government officials to testify before Congress, according to Foreign Policy's blog, The Cable. The Cable reports that Clawson had been busy talking about his knowledge of India and his favorite Bollywood movies.
You know, most of his friends are Indians. Oh, and he's also concerned about U.S.-India trade relations.
So the congressman plowed on in error. None of his colleagues stopped him to point out his mis-identification of the U.S. officials sitting before him.
“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. And there to be freedom of capital,” he said. “And I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”
One second passed.
And then, four long seconds later, Biswal tried to be as diplomatic as possible while Kumar smiled broadly.
“I... I think,” she stammered, “your question is to the Indian government and we certainly share your sentiments. And we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”
Clawson didn't appear to catch the context of what she said.
“Of course. OK,” he grinned. “Let’s see some progress.”
But first someone needs to explain the congressional ropes to the politician from that sometimes-alien land known as Flori-duh.