I wrote last week about how Duncan Hunter, the infamous Vaping Congressman, got caught using campaign funds to pay the airline fee for his family to bring their pet bunny on the plane. And he's in the news again for activities unrelated to passing laws, fixing problems or whatever a Congressman is supposed to do with their time. This time it's for taking it upon himself to remove a painting from a tunnel underneath the Capitol building. And not just any painting, it was a prize-winning student painting with symbolic representations interpreting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
What Congressman Hunter found most objectionable was the fact that the painting portrayed a police as a pig. Well, it actually looks more like a warthog. But to someone inclined to be offended about anti-authoritarian art, the type of hog doesn't matter. Hunter is a veteran and bristles at anything that he perceives to be critical of the police.
It is however an odd painting for the Congressman to get so worked up about. There are definitely are social justice themes, but it's not exactly cop-hating propaganda. You have to be pretty sensitive to see a direct challenge to the authority of the uniform. It's pretty abstract. And it was painted by a student who won a contest. And it's hanging in an underground tunnel.
Yet somehow Hunter has managed to start a new fad among his Republican colleagues. After the painting was put back up, other GOP congressmen over the past couple days have occasionally removed it again as some sort of ongoing protest. Rep. Doug Lamborn took it down after Hunter, then it was put back up. Then Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Brian Babi took it down again. As of this writing it has been returned to the wall but who knows for how long. Speaker Paul Ryan has suggested that they will pass an real goddamn resolution to have it permanently removed.
It's actually a little funny how much of a chore it has become for Congressman Lacy Clay, who hung it there because it was a student from his district in the St. Louis area who painted it. He's had to send staff or go himself down into the tunnel three times now to put the painting back among other art winners from all over the country. It's admirable in a way, but you have to wonder if the United States Congress might not have some more important things to do with its time.
I'm impressed that the Vaping Congressman has managed to find yet another way to kill time while the government continues to not accomplish anything. Of course it's possible he's just doing all this as a political distraction. I'm sure he'd prefer if everyone thought of him as the guy who defended the police from a basement painting, rather than the guy who managed to corruptly bring a pet bunny on a commercial flight.
It'll be exciting to see what Congressman Hunter gets into next. At the current rate, he'll do something kind of stupid at least every week. Martin Luther King Day is coming up, and my guess is it'll have something to do with that. He may be the only congressman from the last several years known for taking action rather than doing nothing at all. I look forward to whatever he does next.