First things first. This article is NOT satire. On Thursday, during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL) spoke to two senior officials from the State and Commerce Departments as if they were government representatives from India. The two government officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, had already been introduced to the panel by Rep, Steve Chabot (R-OH), the chairman of the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Despite the introduction by the chairman, Clawson spoke to them at length as if they were representing the country of India.
Clawson seemingly welcomed Biswal and Kumar to America. After that, he addressed them and said that he hoped for a good working relationship between the United States and India. He kept referring to India as “your country” and wanted to know if the two officials would be able to get the Indian government to work closer with the U.S. regarding trade agreements and the flow of capital.
Below is an excerpt of his comments as well as video, courtesy of Foreign Policy:
“I’m familiar with your country. I love your country. And I understand the complications of so many languages and so many cultures and so many histories all rolled up in one. Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so…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?”
As you can see in the video, there was a very awkward pause after he asked the two officials for cooperation from the Indian government. Eventually, Biswal broke the silence and had to break the bad news to Clawson.
“I think your question is to the Indian government. We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”
You would think this was a skit on Saturday Night Live or Funny or Die. Instead, this is an actual Congressman speaking to members of our State and Commerce Departments as though they are foreigners. Why? Because both have Indian surnames. Therefore, in Clawson’s mind, they must have come directly from India. Especially since he is at a subcommittee hearing regarding Asia.
That’s not all. Clawson is only in Congress due to the resignation of Trey Radel. As you might remember, Radel is the Congressman who was caught trying to buy cocaine from an undercover police office last year. Radel eventually resigned due to pressure from Florida Governor Rick Scott and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). Clawson won a special election last month to replace Radel. The freshman Congressman will have to run again in November to hold onto his seat.
Per Josh Hudson at Foreign Policy, Thursday was Clawson’s first day serving on the subcommittee of Asia and the Pacific. Apparently Chabot had some nice things to say about Clawson when introducing him as the newest member of the subcommittee. Below is from Hudson’s article:
Thursday was Clawson’s first day sitting on the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He was named to the full committee July 9. Subcommittee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) promoted Clawson’s deep international business acumen and knowledge of four languages in welcoming him. “Our newest member of this committee, Curt Clawson … speaks four languages and all kinds of other great stuff,” Chabot boasted.
Yep, all kinds of great stuff. Like thinking anyone with an Indian surname is automatically from India. (Clawson also made sure to reveal his love for Bollywood movies to the State officials.)
Clawson took some lumps on Twitter after Foreign Policy released the video of his adventures on Friday.
Can we really say that Curt Clawson is an improvement over Trey Radell?
— Luke Brinker (@LukeBrinker) July 25, 2014
The four languages Curt Clawson knows: 1. English 2. American 3. Country 4. Western — Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) July 25, 2014
Curt Clawson, in case you’re wondering, is the successor to one Trey Radel. #FloridaMan
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlakeWP) July 25, 2014
“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” GOP Rep. Curt Clawson told two US officials, thinking they were from India instead.
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) July 25, 2014
Congratulations, Rep. Clawson, you’ve now made a name for yourself.