Congressman Jamaal Bowman bizarrely pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon Office Building, apparently to disrupt the vote that was about to take place on the stopgap continuing resolution that Republican leaders had agreed to. Cannon claimed that he was just trying to open a door, an excuse that has prompted hilarity and lots of memes.
Now Bowman’s office has produced talking points for use by his Democratic colleagues. Here are some highlights:
On his way to votes today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman was trying to leave the Cannon House Office Building through the exit he regularly uses for votes. He was rushing to the House floor to prevent himself from missing a vote, and due to confusing signage and an honest mistake, he pulled the alarm in an attempt to open the door.
This is apparently untrue. If you want to hurry to the Capitol to vote, there is an underground tunnel that will take you there. This particular door was an emergency exit:
Capitol Police have opened their own investigation into the incident. The department released a statement later Monday saying “a man” was seen trying to exit a door in the Cannon House Office Building and then pulled a fire alarm.
“USCP officers had previously placed signs with clear language that explained the door was secured and marked as an emergency exit only,” the department said.
And of course, fire alarms are by design obvious and unmistakable. It is hard to imagine how anyone could think that pulling a fire alarm would open an emergency exit, or that doing so would be a good idea.
For the rest, Bowman believes that the best defense is a good offense. These are some of the “Suggested Talking Points” that he recommended to his Democratic colleagues:
* It is an extreme reach on the part of MAGA Republicans to assert that Rep Bowman intended to harm or destruct anyone or thing.
English grammar is not Rep. Bowman’s strong suit. Note, once again, how much Democrats love to denounce “MAGA Republicans.”
* Look, if you’ve been in the Capitol complex on a weekend you’d know there’s only one or two ways to get in and out and it causes confusion for staffers and members alike, but because of last minute votes caused by Republican incompetence and surprise bill drop the not all exits were staffed like usual and the signage made it even more confusing.
No one except Bowman was confused by the emergency exit, with which Bowman himself must have been familiar given his two years in the Cannon building.
* House Republicans are obviously trying to distract from the fact they cannot govern and that they nearly shut down the federal government for no reason.
* I believe Congressman Bowman when he says this was an accident. Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.
Oh, right. Those Nazi members. Got it.
Many have pointed out that by pulling the fire alarm in an apparent effort to delay the vote on the Republicans’ proposal while Democratic leadership had time to consider it, Bowman committed the same offense–obstruction of an official proceeding–for which many January 6 rioters were charged, some of them spending a year in solitary confinement before being brought to trial. Some Republicans have suggested that Bowman should be criminally charged (what he did was clearly a misdemeanor under D.C. law) and that he should be expelled from the House.
So Bowman struck back on the “insurrection” front:
* There are multiple insurrectionist supporters in Congress and more who supported a coup and support Trumpʼs Big Lie. Thatʼs what they should be focused on. Instead their focus on Rep. Bowman is an attempt to minimize January 6th.
Well, it’s a thought. Meanwhile, it is entertaining to watch Bowman twisting in the wind.
UPDATE: Bowman now claims that he didn’t know his staff had referred to Republicans as Nazis and he repudiates that characterization:
I just became aware that in our messaging guidance, there was inappropriate use of the term Nazi without my consent. I condemn the use of the term Nazi out of its precise definition. It is important to specify the term Nazi to refer to members of the Nazi party & neo-Nazis. https://t.co/DUi92VpUia
— Congressman Jamaal Bowman (@RepBowman) October 2, 2023
I suppose it is remotely possible that Bowman’s staff would put out talking points for other Democratic Congressmen to use without consulting Bowman, but far more likely this is a case like that of the star athlete who claimed to have been misquoted in his own autobiography.