Escalating the Sequestration Rhetoric to a Whole New Level

Tennessee Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper (center) shakes hands with President Barack Obama in Chattanooga on July 30. Cooper on Wednesday said if another country imposed sequestration on the U.S., it would be an act of war. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called sequestration a “doomsday” device. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., once said, before it was triggered, sequestration was a “sword of Damocles” hanging over Washington.

Marine Corps Commandant James Amos said in February its effects would be, for U.S. national security, “ruinous.” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Wednesday additional sequester cuts would bring “insidious” effects. Army Chief Gen. Raymond Odierno called a second round of across-the-board cuts “devastating.”

The rhetoric surrounding sequestration has been one part gloom and one part doom. But one lawmaker found a way to take it to a new level.

House Armed Services Committee member Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., made a run at doing what, after two years of bombastic sequestration rhetoric, often seems impossible: Escalating that rhetoric.

“I know the focus of this hearing is on sequestration, which I think I’ve concluded is a Latin word for stupid.”

“Stupid” isn’t quite Welsh’s “insidious.” And it’s not even on par with Odierno’s “devastating.” So, for Mr. Kilmer, we’re afraid his Latin translation fell a tad short of earning the moniker of sequestration escalator in chief.

That’s doubly true considering that another HASC member bested both Welsh and Odierno.

House Armed Services Committee member James Cooper, D-Tenn., put sequestration on par with not just an armed military conflict but — after parsing his words as only an Intercepts scribe can — an invasion of the United States.

“If sequestration were foisted on us by a foreign enemy we could declare it an act of war, and yet we’ve done it to ourselves because the super committee was unable to come up with a bipartisan agreement; because we’ve been unable to unravel that knot since, even though we’ve had some of our generals testify to us that their departments are in chaos. This should not be happening in America.”

For the record, intrigued by Cooper’s thought, Intercepts studied a list of America’s wars compiled by our friends at the History Channel. We couldn’t find a single one started by another country interfering with the federal budget process.

But Cooper might pass the concept along to political-spy novelist Vince Flynn or actor-director Ben Affleck. That book or DVD would make a great gift for an Intercepts reader or scribe.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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