Dana Rohrabacher talks Davy Crockett, Putin, and Afghanistan on House Floor

Dana Rohrabacher in 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore

U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, R–Huntington Beach, gave what’s probably his last Congressional floor speech on Wednesday, Nov. 28. For about 30 minutes, Putin’s favorite Congressman spoke about his legacy during his three decades in Congress–his love for commercial space programs, patents, cannabis, and, of course, Ronald Reagan.

Oh, and he also compared himself to Davy Crockett.

“[W]hen Davy Crockett came here to this body, to this Congress, and Andrew Jackson betrayed those men and women–those Americans who happened to be American Indians–when he betrayed them, Davy Crockett would have nothing to do with it,” Rohrabacher said. “Davy Crockett stood firm, and, yes, it was memorialized in the Walt Disney series… During my time here in the people’s House, as we like to call ourselves, I am proud that I, too, have stood against the tide when it was sweeping in the wrong direction.”

Rohrabacher also said a few things that we feel need a bit of elaboration. For instance, that “Putin’s favorite Congressman” jab we mentioned up top, which really gained traction in 2016 when Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on tape that, “There’s two people I think Putin pays–Rohrabacher and Trump.” Apparently, Rohrabacher really hates that crack and wishes we would all stop saying it.

“I have been over and over again labeled Putin’s favorite Congressman,” Rohrabacher said for some dumb reason. “That is absolutely absurd. I will say right now I believe that everything I have ever done in this body has been based on my love of my country and thinking of what would be good for the people of the United States. In this case, working with Russia in order to defeat radical Islamic terrorists who threaten us was the right thing to do.”

See, Rohrabacher’s not just been sitting in Congress these last few decades–he’s been out traveling the world and fighting the bad guys. Sure, back when he worked as a speechwriter for President Reagan, but he was apparently even kicking ass during the Vietnam War–though not really in an army/soldier kinda way.

“During the time that I was with Ronald Reagan and before, I had a position–as Davy Crockett did as an Indian fighter–I was in a position as one of the fierce warriors of the Cold War,” Rohrabacher said. “I was never in the U.S. military, but I did do things in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and behind the Iron Curtain as well as other activities that I did to fight against communism.”

Oh, Rohrabacher certainly “did do things” in Vietnam. We know this because his buddy Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Films-fame told us about them in this 2017 Huffington Post piece:

A short time after all the effort to dodge the draft, I still somehow ended up in Vietnam, at my own leisure of course. My dear friend, Dana Rohrabacher and I ventured out into Vietnam thanks to his being subsidized by Young Americans for Freedom. Whilst in Vietnam, we witnessed shocking things and met with soldiers. I was repulsed, Dana was inspired. Yet, while meeting with the soldiers, men my age, I again felt an admiration for their patriotic blind faith in the government’s call to war. They trusted the people who led them to what was an endless hell on earth. I recall one officer saying to us, “[sic] There had only been 50,000 deaths in Vietnam, less than the traffic deaths the American Automobile Association accounted for in one year.” Apparently, this made the deaths in Vietnam acceptable… oy vey!

Anyway, Rohrabacher also said in his Nov. 28 speech that he kicked ass in Afghanistan, too, when the Soviets invaded and occupied the country in the 1980s. Well, maybe he kicked ass…

“[D]uring my time before Congress and during my time during the Reagan years, I was deeply involved with various insurgency groups that were trying to defeat the Soviet Union, bring down the Soviet Union,” Rohrabacher said. “Part of that is I was able to get to know the leadership of the mujahideen who were fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan. In fact, I went to Afghanistan and I fought with troops and the mujahideen and fought against Soviet soldiers at the Battle of Jalalabad. Yes, I had that type of experience.”

Rohrabacher saying he actually “fought” the Soviets in Afghanistan is a huge statement. But whether he actually fought in the sense that he picked up a gun and shot some 19-year-old from Smolensk, we can’t really say because Rohrabacher has been telling this same story for years–and always with a wink and nod but never with any actual details.

Mother Jones reporter Daniel Schulman encountered this very boast from Rohrabacher in 2010. As you can see from this excerpt, Rohrabacher wasn’t any clearer then than he is now:

When I met Rohrabacher recently at his Capitol Hill office—adorned with mementos of his Afghan adventures, including a tapestry of the legendary mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud—I asked if he’d joined the battle. “Let’s put it this way,” he said, a glimmer in his eye. “I didn’t carry a gun—most of the time.”

But in his speech last week, Rohrabacher was just getting started. In fact, near the end he even said that he provided the attack plan during the initial stages of President George W. Bush’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan–a plan so brilliant that it prevented a massacre of American soldiers.

“Our own military, our Defense Department wanted to send 100,000 American troops or more into a frontal attack–an attack from Pakistan in the northwest provinces–into Afghanistan,” Rohrabacher said. “I was horrified when I heard this. I knew that territory. It is the most anti-American territory on the planet. Our military would have been slaughtered or at least holed up in fortress cities like the Russians had been… I believe that I was able that day, by convincing the authorities to go in [another] direction, to save thousands and thousands of American soldiers’ lives.”

You’d think that with boasting like this, Rohrabacher would be on fire when it came to his discussion of his work on immigration. But honestly, that was the saddest and weakest part of the speech.

“Those people who would like to come here illegally, I am sorry,” Rohrabacher said. “We already provide for a million people to come here legally. We have to make sure the policies we set for immigration are what are in the interests of the people of the United States, and the same with our foreign policy.”

What, that’s it?! No bluster on how you spent the last few decades trying to end birthright citizenship? Not even a peep about how you weren’t elected to represent “illegals?” Or how you once threatened Santa Ana College because it created a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants?

Rohrabacher’s whole mess of a speech was titled “Standing Against The Tide,” and nothing better exemplifies this than the three decades he spent in Congress railing against immigration. But right at the end, when it really came time for him to speak out, he fell back on stale platitudes and walked away.

Weak, Dana. Weak.

Click here to read Rohrabacher’s speech.

Photo of Dana Rohrabacher in 2016: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.

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