Ralph Hall: On DOMA, "Global Freezing", and Being 90 Years Old

Representative Ralph Hall (R-Texas) doesn’t seem to be consistent on a lot of things. Not that consistency is something I expect from a politician anymore, but his record of incongruous statements and actions is quite impressive. In fact, he just made the news on Thursday for quite an ironic mistake. He captured quite a few befuddled looks and some perplexed stares when he was seen chatting amicably with members of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. It wasn't until someone informed him of his error that the staunch proponent of the Defense of Marriage Act realized he was fraternizing with the enemy.

But Hall knows all about crossing party lines and reaching out to talk to the other side. In fact, he was a member of the other side. In the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Representative Hall, he seems to flip-flop on quite few issues. Most notably, when he first ran for the House in 1980 he was a Democrat. Back in 2004, Hall made the change that probably helped him survive Texas’s redistricting and registered with the Republican Party. Perhaps living up to the stereotype of the older man who becomes more conservative and set in his ways, Hall was done being the most conservative member of the Democratic party and decided to find more suitable company.

But the government is all about diversity. And Hall certainly brings diversity to the House Science Committee. The alternate perspective of not believing in science. Or so many have claimed. It’s not that the chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee doesn’t believe in climate change. It’s just that he would like an investigation into whether it is “global warming or global freezing.” Though he seems to have already come to his own conclusions, recorded in several statements made back in 2011. In an interview with the Science Insider, Hall said in reference to listening to scientists who have researched global warming “I think we oughta listen to ‘em. I just don’t think we oughta mind ‘em.” This is not exactly the cavalier attitude I want from the chairman emeritus of the committee that is supposed to be funding and advocating for policy to advance scientific research.

Don’t let this discount all that Hall has done. He holds the esteemed position of being the oldest member to serve in the House of Representatives. He’s also about to challenge his own record, when he runs for re-election in 2014. Ask him if he’s considering retiring and he’ll quip back that he’s just waiting for Walmart to contact him about his next job as a greeter.