Categorized | News, Politics, US

Congressman Hank Johnson Fears Guam Will “Tip Over And Capsize” Video Is A Hit

Congressman Hank Johnson was for the most part an unknown Democratic congressional member from Georgia’s 4th District until April Fools’ Day.  And you might have thought it was an April Fools’ Day joke until you saw the video of the House Armed Services Committee hearing wherein he told the gathered group of Congressmen and military personnel that he was worried that an extra influx of 8,000 American troops onto America’s most western territory would make the small island “tip over and capsize.”  The video is long enough to ensure that no one explain Hank Johnson’s words away by his being taken out of context.  Congressman Hank Johnson is dead serious in the video.  To make matters worse, the Hank Johnson “Guam Tip Over” video has gone viral.  Now millions know the name of Hank Johnson… 

Politicians say stupid things all the time.  Vice President Joe Biden is famous for his gaffes.  Sarah Palin is a walking treasure trove of gaffes and unsubstantiated idiocies.  So are Congressman Steven King of Iowa and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.  And although their rhetoric tends to get them in trouble with the media and the public, their gaffes and verbal mistakes can usually be explained away by the heat of the moment, a slip of the tongue, or partisan politicking — in short, their chief weapon of explanation is plausible deniability.  Not so with the Guam tipping over video, which simply puts Hank Johnson’s ignorance of basic science in the spotlight. 

In the “Guam Tip Over” video, Congressman Hank Johnson is directing his comments and questions to Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U. S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet.  He goes on for over a minute on the dimensions of the island, seeming to struggle finding the terms “width” and “length” until the Admiral acknowledges that, although he did not know the true dimensions of Guam, it was a “small island.”  It is then that Hank Johnson notes that it is his “fear… that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”

It is clear that Admiral Willard is attempting not to laugh aloud and embarrass the Congressman.  He injects dryly, “We don’t anticipate that.”  The admiral then goes on to explain that, even with the additional influx of troops onto the island of Guam, the population (which stands at an estimated 175,000 and 17,000 American troops) will only reach 200,000 total. 

But for Guam to capsize or tip over would require that the island be buoyant, a floating land mass.  It would have to be boatlike.  But islands are simply nothing more than the protruding parts of the ocean floor that are high enough to rise above sea level.  They are not unattached, semi-attached, or drifting.  Therefore, unlike a boat, they are not in danger of tipping or capsizing when an enormous amount of weight is added to their surface or even if all the weight suddenly shifts to one side or end of the island. 

But that is elementary school geological science. 

A representative from Congressman Hank Johnson’s office issued a statement saying that Johnson was deadpanning, was not being literal, and was using a “facetious metaphor” in attempting to point out the impact on the environment and ecology with the addition of more troops (the “tipping point”) on Guam. 

They should have went with:  “Congressman Hank Johnson was just kidding.  April Fools’!”

Still, unless the Congressman is quite the deadpan actor, that comment does not appear to be a joke, all protestations considered.  And neither is the fact that the video makes the elected official look like an ignorant fool.

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