- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

For striking a Capitol Police officer, Rep. Cynthia McKinney could have swallowed her pride and apologized. But that’s not the McKinney way. So now Washington is immersed in one of its mini-scandals, all because one congresswoman thinks the world revolves around her.

Members of Congress are excused from passing through a metal detector, but Miss McKinney, by her own admission, wasn’t wearing her congressional pin, and rushed past the security stop. Not recognizing her as a member, an officer called for her to stop — three times, according to witnesses — but to no avail. The officer reached to grab her, and Miss McKinney hit him with her cell phone. Miss McKinney doesn’t dispute any of this.

Assuming the facts support the allegation, Capitol Police are right to seek an arrest warrant, although an apology from Miss McKinney would have gone a long way toward soothing tempers. But Miss McKinney, ever the victim, claimed that the officer singled her out because she’s black — or rather a “female, black, progressive congresswoman” — and accused the entire Capitol Police department of being racist.

The race card is certainly a ploy to get Capitol Police to back down. But even Miss McKinney’s fellow Democrats think she’s gone too far this time. “I don’t think any of it justifies hitting a police officer,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Miss McKinney should listen to her, because in a post-September 11 world she’s going to find few allies in her faux crusade.

For one thing, it doesn’t look like Capitol Police are going to back down, nor should they. Calling Miss McKinney’s race allegations “highly inappropriate,” Chief Terry Gainer has defended his officers. “I want to make it really clear,” he said. “If [officers] are not sure who’s walking in that door, I expect them to challenge that person. And the person who is challenged has no right to strike an officer.” It looks increasingly likely that Miss McKinney’s arrogance might land her in a courtroom.

The incident highlighted the task confronting the one department responsible for the safety of every one of the 30,000 persons who visit the Capitol daily. Despite their privileges, members of Congress are not empowered to obstruct Capitol Police officers doing their duty. The House should reaffirm its appreciation of those men and women duty bound to protect them and censure Miss McKinney’s disgraceful conduct.

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