While I am glancing at the Wall Street Journal, as I did in my last post just below, there was a piece of some passing interest on the congressional politics of gun control in yesterday’s issue. The author was Rep. Mike Thompson of California’s Fifth District, who described himself as having been named last month the “chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.” Reading on, I saw largely liberal policy proposals from Rep. Thompson, of whom I had never heard before, and thought that was a bit unusual coming from someone who chairs a task force in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Only there is no such thing as “the U.S. House of Representatives Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.” There is a group calling itself a “task force” consisting entirely of Democratic members, appointed by minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Thompson is a Democratic member who was chosen to chair it—something neither the article nor his byline specifies in his Journal piece—and he is passing himself off as chairman of some kind of official body of the House itself. Sorry, that’s just misleading at best, and a falsehood at worst, and it’s unlike the editors of the Journal to give such deception a pass in their own pages. If the House as a whole (i.e., a majority in some official action) creates a task force, then there is a ”U.S. House of Representatives Task Force” on something. If the minority party alone assembles to deliberate on its partisan position on an issue, there is no “U.S. House of Representatives Task Force.” In this case, there is a “House Democratic Caucus Gun Violence Protection Task Force.” If the Journal’s editors still control what is published in their pages, that’s what Thompson’s essay should have said he is chairing.