In an extraordinary — and extraordinarily awkward — failure of basic situational awareness, a U.S. congressman apparently mistook American government officials for Indian government officials during a congressional hearing.
As first reported by Foreign Policy magazine, freshman Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL) spoke to State Department official Nisha Biswal and Commerce Department official Arun Kumar as if they were Indian government officials at a House Foreign Affairs hearing on Thursday.
“I’m familiar with your country. I love your country. And I understand the complications of so many languages and so many cultures and so many histories all rolled up in one,” Clawson said. He added: “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”
When he asked the American officials for cooperation from “your government,” Biswal appeared rather confused. “I think your question is to the Indian government,” she said, “and we certainly share your sentiments and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S. government.”
Clawson took office on June 25, replacing Rep. Trey Radel (R), who resigned after getting arrested for cocaine possession last fall.
Watch a portion of the exchange below, as clipped by Foreign Policy.