“Who’s in Charge Here?” is a line from the movie “Apocalypse Now” and will be used by former Congressman Allen B. West to highlight our current Republican led Congress. He will also use it to define the difference between a career politician and true representatives of our citizens. As you know, Congress is in a recess for the month of August. Do you know when that recess was created and the reason why that is? Let Mr. West explain it to you so that you can inform your friends.
As Written By Allen West for Townhall:
The movie “Apocalypse Now” came out in August 1979, it was Francis Ford Coppola’s film on the Vietnam War centered on the mission of Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) to assassinate a US Army Colonel gone rogue, played by Marlon Brando. I was beginning my freshman year of college at the University of Tennessee, and as a student enrolled in ROTC, I went to see the movie. Of course, it took me three viewings to really come to grips with the film and understand it. However, everyone remembers the memorable character, and lines, of Robert Duvall who played an eccentric Air Calvary Squadron Commander who said, “Charlie don’t surf” and “I love the smell of napalm in the morning, it smells like victory”. And yes, that scene with the air cavalry attack against the Viet Cong village coming in over the water while Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries was unforgettable.
But there is a different scene, vignette, from that movie that is the subject of this missive. It was when Captain Willard and his Navy riverine boat escort him to the frontlines on the river, the last American outpost at night. It was there Captain Willard was supposed to link up with an Army officer for an intelligence update. Willard walks into the fighting position and asks a black Soldier manning an M60 machine gun the question, “Who’s in charge here?”, to which the Soldier responds, “ain’t you?”
Imagine if you were to walk into Washington, D.C. right now and ask the same rhetorical question, “Who’s in charge here”? It is the month of August and the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and the president are all on vacation…or as they refer to it, recess. When I was a kid at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Atlanta, recess was a reward. If you had finished your work and were good in class, then you were able to take a recess after lunch. You could not be denied lunch, but doggone Sister Judith had a policy that teachers could deny recess. You did not get playtime unless you had met the requirements, a lesson that needs to be taught in Washington, D.C.
For those of you who do not know, here is the history of August recess. Washington is literally built on a swamp, no joke. The month of August is notorious for being the most unbearable with searing heat and high humidity, with little flowing breeze. Back in the day when there was not any air conditioning, Congress would recess for the month of August. However, recess also meant that these citizen legislators went back to their normal occupations, since it was never the intent of our Founding Fathers to have “career politicians”, but true representatives, servant leaders. Now, recess has come to mean something completely different, and we do have career politicians.
We are told how important it is for these legislators to be in their districts for the entire month of August. The need to meet with their constituents, I would love to see the town hall meeting schedule for every member of the House and Senate for this month. But, ask yourself, is this recess a reward, a time to decompress from a hard and productive legislative session, or just a taxpayer funded 30 day plus vacation? Only someone suffering from massive delusion would believe the former. That is what frustrated me in my term as a U.S. congressman coming from a career in the military. We did not leave until the job, the mission, was done, and we met the expected standard, if not …….
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