January 14 2008, 6:03 PM
As if things aren't nasty enough in politics these days, we have a new low. Before his swearing in today as a Colorado Republican legislator, Doug Bruce of Colorado Springs, miffed that a Rocky Mountain News photographer snapped his picture during the morning prayer, kicked the photographer in the knee.
Asked by reporters in his office about the incident, Bruce said his kick was warranted and that he had warned the photographers not to take his picture during the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. "In 21 years, I don't think there has ever been an instance where I had to do something to stop somebody from behaving in such a coarse and disgusting way," Bruce said.Since Mr. Bruce is new to the House, one might expect him to have read the rules before his first day. Then he would have learned the photographer's action was not out of bounds.
House rules allow the media full access to the floor where the incident occurred. No restrictions are placed on photographers during prayers or any other activities. Rocky Editor, President and Publisher John Temple said the speaker of the House is the person who sets rules of conduct, and the rules have allowed photographers on the floor to take pictures of such moments for decades. "For a person to believe that he can provide a lesson in decorum by kicking another human being is unfathomable," Temple said. "Mr. Bruce's conduct was totally out of line. He owes the photographer and the full House an apology."ProgressNow Action, a progressive group, sent out a press release (received by e-mail, no link available yet) calling the incident "Republicans Gone Wild" and is demanding that ""Minority Leader May and Chairman Wadhams ... publicly condemn their fellow Republicans' unconscionable actions immediately." I'm reminded of the Al Pacino movie, And Justice for All, where the Judge tells the over-worked public defender played by Al Pacino that he's out of order and Pacino screams back, "No, You're out of order!" Pacino, of course, goes to jail for contempt. No matter who's right or wrong on the issue at hand, there's no need to scream or kick. Bruce should consider himself lucky if the photographer doesn't file a complaint seeking to have him charged with assault and battery. A Denver jury might not be as favorably disposed to him as one in his home town of Colorado Springs. On the other hand, if this keeps up, we may have our liveliest legislative session in decades.