From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Southwestern Energy: more commendable than Barack Obama.

In Annals of Bad Ideas, Resolutions and Ceremonies on 28 January 2009 at 5:16 pm

That’s what the Arkansas Legislature says. A few hours after the House State Agencies Committee defeated a resolution to congratulate Barack Obama on his election, the Joint Energy Committee decided to applaud Southwestern Energy with a ceremonial measure I pointed out last week. The latter resolution now goes the the full House.

Unfortunately I was squirreled away in another committee meeting this morning, so I missed the Obama backlash. The very fact of the rejection is head-scratching. But even more mystifying is the justification opponents gave for saying no, according to reports: they took issue with language saying that the U.S. was founded by slave owners.

Now, the role of slavery in this country’s past is an obvious and indisputable fact to anyone who is even remotely familiar with American history. I’ll assume that the resolution’s opponents are more than remotely familiar — which means there’s much more than the slavery issue at play here. As with the Thomas Paine showdown yesterday, it appears that some members are making dubious historical claims in order to fight a political battle.

Look, if I were a Republican legislator, I would be more than a little irked with the Obama resolution as drafted. I would probably even want to defeat it. Its triumphal language — it references Obama’s ‘smashing electoral college victory’ — seems deliberately geared to add insult to the GOP’s injury. But if you’re going to kill the thing, please, have the honesty to do so without the assistance of a specious historical argument.

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