A couple of weeks ago, I wrote some commentary for the Delaware First Media’s semi-annual political review. In response to one question, I included the following statement:
The bill [Smith-Conyers Bankruptcy Bill] had a hearing in subcommittee on September 8th (and Delaware’s lone Congressman, John Carney, was notable by his absence).
Rep. Carney took issue with the last phrase alleging that he was not absent, but was actually a spectator at the hearing. His complaint led to the removal of the parenthetical with the requisite “regrets the error” language.
But the simple question is, does being a spectator mean that Rep. Carney was not “Notable By His Absence”?
To support his position that he was not absent, Rep. Carney forwarded a link to a Wall Street Journal blog, http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2011/09/08/lawmakers-consider-bankruptcy-forum-shopping/, highlighting the following phrase, among others:
The hearing drew one spectator who would normally be among those asking the questions: Democratic Rep. John Carney of Delaware. Unable to officially speak at the hearing because he’s not a member of the subcommittee…
The problem with the Wall Street Journal blog’s post is that it makes a glaring error — Rep. Carney would NOT normally be among those asking the questions, because he is NOT a member of the committee. But, Rep. Carney could have made a statement as a witness.
The Wall Street Journal blog’s post neglects to mention that Rep. Carney failed to exercise his right to speak. According to U.S. House Rules (http://rules.house.gov/Media/file/PDF_112_1/legislativetext/112th%20Rules%20Pamphlet.pdf), and by general member courtesy, Rep. Carney could have made a public statement on the Bill as a witness — all he had to do was ask…
So, Rep. Carney was indeed “Notable By His Absence” because, as he admits, he was a spectator, not a Representative.
Not that this spectator role for him should surprise anyone.
Spectator Carney has made being “Notable By His Absence” a constant political role during his years in elective office. For example, the reason that he is not Governor of the State of Delaware, today, is that he was just a spectator during his tenure as Governor Minner’s right hand man.
He was “Notable By His Absence” during the DelDot petty corruption scandal with Chris Tigani.
He was “Notable By His Absence” during the crisis of healthcare in Delaware’s prisons that led to federal oversight and a finding of civil rights violations.
He was “Notable By His Absence” during the Psychiatric Center scandal in which mentally ill Delawareans were systematically abused by Delaware Psychiatric Center employees leading to a total overhaul of the Center by a State House Committee led by then House Majority Leader, Dick Cathcart.
He was “Notable By His Absence” while the State was mismanaging its finances that led to a record $800 million (almost 25% of the budget) deficit in 2009.
And, yes, he was “Notable By His Absence” during the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the Smith-Conyers Bankruptcy Bill — and I have no regrets in saying so.