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Congressman Shoots an Air Ball

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
September 2014
Congressman Shoots an Air Ball

“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida said during a recent congressional hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as he addressed Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar. “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”

The Tea Party-backed businessman, elected to Congress only a month earlier, followed up his friendly greeting with a request: “Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there. I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

Nothing unusual about his words, except for one important detail: Biswal and Kumar are Indian-Americans who have senior positions in the U.S. State Department and Commerce Department respectively.

“I think your question is to the Indian government,” Biswal said. “We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.”

Both Biswal and Kumar were born in India, but it was nevertheless an embarrassing mistake. Had Clawson been facing a pair of Italian-Americans or German-Americans, would he have assumed they were anything but US citizens?

He later apologized in a statement to USA Today: “I made a mistake in speaking before being fully briefed and I apologize. I’m a quick study, but in this case I shot an air ball.”

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more.]

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