Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, asks a question of a panel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007, on Capitol Hill, during the House Judiciary Committee hearing looking into the role of federal intervention in hate crimes and race-related violence in public schools. (AP Photos/Susan Walsh)

Sheila Jackson Lee’s Storm of Confusion

Prior to the torrential rains that arrived with Hurricane Harvey last Friday, Houston’s biggest natural disaster has usually been Sheila Jackson Lee, the Democrat member of Congress whose district cuts its own indelible swath through the middle of the city.  A prime example of the kind of politician who should never be allowed to speak unscripted, Jackson has in the past perfected the art of the gaffe–such as the time she asked  JPL scientists if the Mars Rover could snap a picture of the flag placed there by American astronauts, or when she declared to her fellow congressmen on the House floor  that the Constitution is 400 years old.

Never one to rest on her laurels, however, Jackson Lee topped herself on CNN the other day while giving an interview from a Houston storm shelter.  Host Alysin Camerota, evidently trying to give traction to the nonsense that Senator Ted Cruz heartlessly refused to approve aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy back in 2012, asked Jackson Lee about her own votes on that pork-laden bill, and to contrast them with her current requests for federal dollars to aid relief efforts in her home state.  It all started off well enough, but quickly went downhill from there:

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. . .referred to the storm as “Sandy Hook” several different times, even after hosts corrected her.

Lee called the storm Sandy Hook —the name of a Connecticut elementary school where 20 children and six teachers were killed in 2012—at least four times, prompting corrections from the hosts of CNN’s “New Day.” Lee was in a Houston shelter for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, when Alisyn Camerota asked about her votes on Hurricane Sandy relief, and Lee said she did help “Sandy Hook victims.”

“As I said, I voted on legislation to help the Sandy Hook victims,” Lee replied to Camerota’s question.

“Superstorm Sandy,” Camerota interjected.

“Sandy super storm,” Lee immediately said, before making the same mistake seconds later.

Actually, to me it sounded more like she said, “Sandy Superstrong.”  But you get the idea.

Saving the best for last, though, Jackson Lee had some nice things to say about a certain New Jersey governor who urged the Congressional delegation from his state to swiftly approve disaster funding for Texas:

Later, she was asked about Gov. Chris Christie (R., N.J.) urging House members to fund Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, and Lee called him “Crispy.”

“We thank Governor Crispy,” Lee said.

Given Christie’s penchant for fried chicken, though, this may have been less of a gaffe and more of a Freudian slip.

But hey, at least she got the name of Hurricane Harvey right–which is no small victory, considering Jackson Lee’s tirade against the “lily white” naming conventions NOAA uses for tropical storms.  With that kind of intellect at work for us in Congress, we can all rest assured that they’re taking care of business.

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Marc Giller

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