Congress Is A Shameful Place And It’s Gotten Worse

By

Leonard Zwelling

In 2009, I sat through a lot of hearings on Capitol Hill. The committee on which my boss was the ranking Senate member, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, was mighty busy looking at tobacco legislation, a proposed cancer bill, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act

One of the first things I learned looking up from the bottom rung of the Senate ladder was that hearings were not really hearings but places where senators talked. They would use the C-SPAN excerpts of their “opening statements” and “questions” of witnesses in their next campaign TV commercials. Thus, they were long winded and the witnesses had limited time to speak as there was always a clock on each senator’s time with a witness. The senators tended to use four out of every five allotted minutes.

I also learned that there were rules governing these hearings and the most important rule was the unwritten one of constant civility. I only saw the rule broken once when Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (youngish) challenged Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (very senior) about an issue surrounding follow-on biologics during an evening discussion of part of the ACA. Crossing Senator Hatch is a huge mistake. He will always invoke his seniority and something like, “that’s not the way we do things around here.”

It happened to Cory Booker (D-NJ) during the Kavanaugh hearings when he threatened to make confidential emails public. It was Senator Cornyn (R-TX) who warned him against doing that as it could cost him his Senate seat. This is on top of Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) grandstanding and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) trying to make points during a hearing on an issue the Dems have no chance of winning. Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed and soon. Senator Cornyn noted that the way to become president (a position the three Senate Democrats are reputed to be aiming for) is not to flout the rules of the Senate. And, I agree.

The Democrats simply cannot resist undermining their own best interests by presenting a contentious face to the American public. They would rather go down swinging to satisfy the liberal base than to behave like adults when they know they are going to lose. Yes, The GOP should have made all of the documents available on Kavanaugh’s time working in the White House available and do so with sufficient time for the Dems to review them. Instead a lawyer for the Bush White House invoked executive privilege and kept over 90% of the documents hidden.

Why couldn’t the Dems just say that and move on? Instead each of them had to complain about the process—one they were no longer in charge of–and make fools of themselves in front of the cameras.

It looks as though everyone in Washington is acting like an ass. The Trump Administration seems to be coming unglued. Congress is unable to fulfill its job of checking and balancing an unbalanced president. The Supreme Court is more partisan than ever.

Are there any adults left in the nation’s capital or did the last one leave on January 20, 2017 and shut the light of wisdom with him?

Believe it or not, even George W. Bush has been made to look good by Trump. And Congress is, at best, inept.

Leonard Zwelling