Barnaby Monk 1:14 p.m., June 19
San Diego mayor takes to L.A. public radio to blast Obama and Congress
Newly ensconced in city hall, former congressman takes apart the Tea Party, Democrats, and the president, saying half of Congress doesn't believe in science
San Diego mayor Bob Filner - who came in for some tough treatment of his own from San Diego State University-owned public broadcaster KPBS during this year's campaign - has given an interview to Los Angeles public radio station KPCC in which the ex-congressman blasts both sides of the aisle in Congress, along with the president of the United States.
In a partial transcript of the session, posted today on KPCC's website, the liberal Democrat first unloads on the GOP.
"I couldn’t believe the kind of people who had come and taken power. Many of them had never had any government experience. They had no respect as it were for government per se. I mean, I don’t know why you run for government office with the intent to close up government."
Filner says half of the Congress didn't believe in science; they thought that "climate change didn’t exist, did not believe in stem cell research, thought that you teach creationism and not evolution." "If you have a group like that, what do you do?" says Filner. "There’s no reaching across the aisle."
And that was only a warm-up.
Filner saves his harshest words for his own party: A President who gives away the store before sitting down to negotiate; Democrats who had run the House for 40 years didn’t understand you can’t legislate as a minority; leadership wasting its time in the weeds on the process of government rather than the politics of trying to win back the House.
"When we were in the minority they would always have motions," he says, for things like defeating the previous question. "Well, who cares about those?" He says nobody knew "what the hell we were talking about and yet we spent all our energy on that."
Filner says one good thing came from Newt Gingrich: He diminished the power of seniority on the Republican side. Not so for Democrats who, he says, still rule from the top down. "They keep their control by intimidation," says Filner. If you don’t go along with the votes, he says members lose committee assignments or floor time to talk or even their chance of getting bills passed.
The San Diego mayor then hits Democrats for ignoring veterans.
He admits it was the news about rat-infested dormitories at Walter Reed Hospital that put a public spotlight on the veterans crisis – and made the funding possible. He says he can’t understand why Democrats never figured out how powerful the veterans issue was. "They just didn’t seem to understand that this was a constituency that was ours if we showed that we cared," he says.