Accuses Democrats of Speaking With ‘Bile’ Against Defense : Dornan Forced to Apologize for Rhetoric

Times Staff Writer

Rep. Robert K. Dornan, the frequently outspoken Republican from Buena Park, was forced to apologize Wednesday after he accused liberal Democrats of speaking against defense spending “with mouths dripping with spleen and bile.”

Dornan made the comment during House debate on a Democratic proposal to halt funding of the Trident D-5 missile. He later agreed to apologize for what he acknowledged was “overcolorful” rhetoric and, for the official record, offered to substitute the words “unnecessary sarcasm” for the offending phrase.

But he was not the least bit repentant, telling reporters afterward that he had received “a lot of compliments” on his performance and intends to speak up more often in the future. “Never again will I have anybody counsel me not to speak,” he said.

It was not the first time that Dornan’s temper has flared against liberal Democrats during debate. On March 5, he grabbed the necktie of Rep. Thomas J. Downey (D-N.Y.) during an argument in which he called Downey a “draft-dodging wimp.”


Dornan’s targets Wednesday included Downey, Rep. Les AuCoin (D-Ore.), California Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-Greenbrae)--whom he called “the gentlelady from Babylon on the Bay"--and unnamed Democrats who have not served in the U.S. military.

“Those of you who have no military record are the worst of all,” said Dornan, who was an Air Force pilot after the Korean War. “You are for absolutely nothing. You voted for nothing in your life for defense.”

Dornan was pointing at AuCoin at the time, although AuCoin served in the military during the 1960s.

AuCoin then demanded that Dornan be denied the right to speak for the remainder of the day, characterizing the remarks as “insulting, inaccurate and unbecoming of the House of Representatives.” While the House parliamentarian was reviewing the request, Dornan agreed to apologize.


Later, Dornan continued his attack on members of Congress who have not seen military service. “There is a covey of members who assiduously avoided military service--mostly through student deferments,” he said. “I believe they carry guilt about it.”

After tempers cooled, Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) defended Dornan, saying he was acting out of “understandable weariness” with the debate. “Bob is a pyrotechnic, volatile activist,” Hyde said.