Cabinet officers aren’t allowed to make “jokes” like this in wartime. (Just imagine the howls if some prominent Democrat had called the RNC, for example, a terrorist organization.)
Time for Bush to ask for Paige’s resignation.
Of course, it was time for that months ago, when it turned out the “miracle” Paige presided over in Houston was mostly a hoax.
Here’s the latest story:
02:35 PM CST on Monday, February 23, 2004
WASHINGTON – Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation’s largest teachers union a “terrorist organization” during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.
Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige’s remarks about the National Education Association.
“These were the words, ‘The NEA is a terrorist organization,”‘ said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.
“He was making a joke, probably not a very good one,” said Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. “Of course he immediately divorced the NEA from ordinary teachers, who he said he supports.”
“I don’t think the NEA is a terrorist organization,” said Rendell, who has butted heads with the group as well. “They’re not a terrorist organization any more than the National Business Organization is a terrorist organization.
Neither the Education Department nor NEA had an immediate comment on Paige’s comments. Both indicated that statements were forthcoming.
Education has been a top issue for governors, who have sought more flexibility from the administration on President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” law, which seeks to improve school performance in part by allowing parents to move their children from poorly performing schools.
Democrats have said Bush has failed to fully fund the law, giving the states greater burdens but not the resources to handle them.
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, said Paige’s remarks startled the governors, who met for nearly two hours with Bush and several Cabinet officials.
“He is, I guess, very concerned about anybody that questions what the president is doing,” Holden said.
“He was implying that the NEA has not been one of the organizations that has been working with the administration to try to solve ‘No Child Left Behind,”‘ he said.
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said of Paige’s comments: “Somebody asked him about the NEA’s role and he offered his perspective on it.”
Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat, said the comments were made in the context of “we can’t be supportive of the status quo and they’re the status quo. But whatever the context, it is inappropriate — I know he wasn’t calling teachers terrorists — but to ever suggest that the organization they belong to was a terrorist organization is uncalled for.”