U.S.-Syrian relations are often tense. U.S. officials are demanding that Syria withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and suspicion lingers that Damascus helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein hide illicit weapons.
Still, some of Rep. Sam Johnson's constituents apparently were surprised when the Plano Republican said he'd like to take care of the problem – by personally dropping a couple of nuclear bombs.
"Syria is the problem," the former fighter pilot said at a pancake breakfast at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen. "Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em, and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."
Someone was offended enough to play a recording of the Feb. 19 remarks for Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper that first reported them this week.
Mr. Johnson said he's "absolutely" surprised that anyone took it seriously, adding that he's never advocated a nuclear attack on Syria.
"I was kind of joking. You know. We were talking between veterans," said Mr. Johnson, an Air Force fighter pilot in Korea and Vietnam, where he spent 7 ½ years as a prisoner of war. "We were swapping sea stories – things that we'd done in the military."
He told the folks in Allen that he had shared his plan with President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, during a recent White House visit.
"President Bush knew I was joking," he said Thursday.
Fine, whatever, it was a joke. A sick and repulsive joke, in my opinion, but apparently not in Rep. Johnson's. I don't know what else to say.
UPDATE: There's an interesting comment by heartmind at the initial post:
My understanding from the Dallas Morning News is that Johnson says he meant this statement as a joke. We can debate if this was an appropriate joke. I think it was inappropriate. Yet, as a thirty something male, I find that I encounter a lot of men from Johnson's generation who occasionally make jokes that I think cross the line.
My understanding is that many of the persons at this event were persons from Johnson's generation. These were not members of Suncreek UMC. One does not find a large number of senior citizens in the west area of Allen. I think these persons attended at the invitation of some younger men at the church. The intentions of these younger men were good. I would caution against blaming the church for Johnson's statement or the applause by some of those in attendance following this joke. Read this link to discover what the pastor said at this event and reach your own conclusion about the values of this church.