The Tuskegee airmen were the U.S. military’s first group of African American fighter pilots, an elite unit that served with distinction during World War II only to return home to face to discrimination and harassment. Today, they received the Congressional Gold Medal, “the most prestigious Congress has to offer.”
But the event was marred slightly by the presentation of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH):
During his short speech to those in attendance, Boehner six times mispronounced the group’s name as the “Tusk-E-gee,” eliciting audible groans from the front to the back of the Capitol Rotunda. One woman standing in front of me leaned to her companion and whispered, “This is so embarrassing, and he’s from my state.”
Perhaps making matters worse, almost all of Boehner’s speech focused on the general accomplishments of American forces in World War II, paying little direct respect to those in the room.
As if to remove any doubt about the verbal kerfuffle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took the stage and began his speech by pronouncing the group’s name correctly, while making a clear, if passing, glance in Boehner’s direction. Immediately afterward, the entire crowd broke into applause at the correction.
Watch a montage of Boehner:
It’s been a rough week for Boehner. Yesterday, he was booed by construction workers when he talked about Iraq, and today he accidentally voted in favor of a budget bill that he’s been deriding for the last week.