Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs’ subcommittee on Africa, wondered whether the U.S.’s intervention in Libya means we might “go into Africa next.” Libya is, of course, in Africa. Jay Leno joked last night, “You see why he’s not on the intelligence committee. Even Sarah Palin’s going ‘get a map!’”
Marino’s office scrambled to respond to our story, telling reporters that the congressman was making a distinction between our aerial bombing of Libya and the potential deployment of ground troops — a point that was not made clear in his original statement. “We are not ‘in’ Africa by any means,” a Marino spokesman said. “We do not have ground troops there and, as far as we know, there are no plans to go into Africa.” In fact, the U.S. has bases in Africa and troops on the ground.
As Marino staffers were undertaking efforts to defend their boss’s competency, they were simultaneously undermining that cause. Yesterday, “about a dozen” tea party protesters showed up outside Marino’s district office in Tunkhannock, PA. At the time, Marino, who also sits on the House Homeland Security, was participating in a hearing on the “U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against Drug Cartels.” Marino decided to ditch the hearing and go talk to tea party protesters instead:
During the rally, Renita Fenick, Mr. Marino’s director of communications, came out to hear what the tea party members had to say. She told them the congressman would appreciate knowing he had that kind of support and would pass on their comments.
Ms. Fenick said after the rally she was able to get Mr. Marino on the phone from Washington to speak with those at the Tunkhannock office.
“We pulled him out of a Homeland Security meeting to do it,” she said.
If foreign affairs and homeland security don’t interest Marino, perhaps he should recuse himself from those committees and devote more of his time to tea party rallies.