Democratic Rep. Bob Ethridge of North Carolina became the latest unwitting star of a YouTube hit when footage of the congressman repeatedly asking "who are you?" and roughly grabbing an unidentified interviewer in a zombie-like manner went viral over the past day.
Origins of the video and responsible parties behind it aren't completely clear at the moment (the "student" posing the question is blurred out in the published footage), but the clip is a bit reminiscent of James O'Keefe and I'd be surprised if the Breitbart outfit isn't behind the "assault." As usual, the clip has had its intended effect because despite being jerky and clearly edited, politicians and bloggers are calling the 1:11 video evidence of the lawmaker's incompetence:
Bob Etheridge has lost it," said Jon Thompson, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman. "His conduct is unbecoming of a member of Congress. It's bad enough that he's joined Obama's assault on North Carolina jobs, but his physical assault on a college student goes beyond the pale."Andrew Breitbart's Big Government does indeed cover the controversy, insinuating Rep. Etheridge's behavior is indicative of overall hostility within the Democratic party:
Expect more of this. The hard, progressive left captured the Democrat majority in Congress and forced them to enact a fantasy grab-bag of legislation that is increasingly unpopular with the American public. We're on the cusp of a deeper recession, millions of unemployed Americans have no prospect for work, taxes are about to spike higher and we've maxed out the national credit card. The Democrats were given a chance to run government and they've only succeeded in running it into the ground.That post does go on to concede that Rep. Etheridge isn't one of "those gerry-mandered welfare queens," though. Even generally left-leaning Salon joined the fray, calling for the congressman to be arrested for the kerfuffle:
So, yeah, Democrats who are up for reelection this November are a bit testy.
That's a clear case of assault and battery (the unedited video from the first camera is here). There is some speculation that the individuals questioning him have some connection to the right-wing organization of Andrew Breitbart. I hope it goes without saying how irrelevant that is. The only reason I think this is worth noting is this: imagine what would have happened to those students if this situation had been reversed, and it was them who had physically assaulted Rep. Etheridge, rather than the other way around. How quickly would they have been arrested and prosecuted? The application of our laws isn't supposed to depend upon who is perpetrating the crime and who the victim is. Obviously, there are few principles, if there are any, more discarded than that one in Washington, but it would be nice to see its being applied in this instance by having this Congressman, obviously inebriated with an extreme sense of entitlement, arrested and charged.While Rep. Etheridge seems to be overreacting to the questions asked, the clip is pretty shady. In this day and age, who doesn't want to reap the rewards of internet attention? Why is this kid's face obscured- what's the big secret? And why hasn't he stepped forward to claim his prize of viral infamy? He could be like, almost as famous as the "don't tase me bro" dude. It's interesting that the one question Rep. Etheridge asked over and over again- "who are you?"- has yet to be answered as the clip racks up thousands of views.
Update: Rep. Etheridge has apologized:
"I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina, I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."