The ongoing outrage over Sen. Elizabeth Warren being shut down under a Senate rule designed to maintain decorum in our deliberative body tasked with legislating is reaching ludicrous proportions. The hashtags and Late Night talk show drama and thinkpieces about Warren 2020 have been flying with reckless abandon. Especially prominent is the “sexism” charge. Men daring to “silence” a woman, you see.
Of course, the rule (19) is not as obscure as suggested (on CNN Rick Santorum copped to being 19’ed back in the day) and, as Jay pointed out, other perhaps more stinging rebukes have been issued before … and by McConnell … and at a Republican … who is a dude. But you can’t raise election money on facts. You need outrage. Or just rage.
And that’s the whole issue, isn’t it? Outrage, I mean. Rage, I add. That’s why she did it in the first place. She wants people outraged and enraged at Sessions and Trump (like either one needs her help .. HEYO!) and any and every other Republican. As anyone who has ever confessed to voting for a Republican can attest, the accusation of racism comes just as easily unjustified as it comes justified. Which is, don’t get me wrong, the price of politics.
But it’s the price when you are on the campaign trail. When it’s an opinion column or a Deadspin hit piece or a tin-foil Kos blog. But that shouldn’t be the case on the Senate floor.
Remember how angry everyone was when Joe Wilson shouted “you lie”? Maybe they had a point. Time and place.
I do have a point here. The point is, if telling Elizabeth Warren to shut up can start to rein in the more absurd accusations made against Republicans by their Democrat colleagues (and yes, it’s mostly one way), well then .. yeah, shut the hell up, Senator Warren.
Otherwise, here’s where we’re headed on the Senate floor:
And not for nothing, but that spittle-flecked rage tweet is exactly the kind of thing Warren was going for.
It should be noted that, by the way, that Warren was rebuked not merely while reading the heartfelt sentiments of Dr. Martin Luther King’s widow. She was not simply debating the merits, she was playing for the cameras. She wasn’t working toward a resolution but working toward the news cycle. (Very Trumpist of her.) Besides the letter, she also quoted Senator Kennedy in calling Jeff Sessions a “disgrace” and for saying that she’d be “glad to repeat it in [her] own words.” Yes, that is flat-out, indisputably Warren saying Sessions is a “disgrace to the judiciary committee.”
Surely worse things have been said in the Senate, but the rule exists, it has been used in the past and, guess what, elections have consequences. Hopefully one of the consequences of Trump’s election and the landslide of Republican victories across the country is that we get a little less Movie Bob and a little more rules of order.
We should have no qualms saying there are plenty of racists in the world, and likewise this country, and similarly this party. In fact they are louder and prouder now than they have been in a long time. By all means, say so. I do. But also in a floor debate in a Senate confirmation hearing, don’t call a fellow senator a ‘disgrace to the judiciary” or a hater of blacks and women.
Democrats use things like shouting sexism or racism or “they want you to die quickly” to get their rabid base nicely frothed and angry. It’s counter-productive and often (but not always) counter-factual. I believe in calling people what they are, but if a Senate debate devolves to the level of a Trump tweet, then what do we have left? And Democrats have spent years perfecting the craft of destroying a debate of the merits by creating a debate of motive. Even if Warren’s comments weren’t particularly egregious, her party has accumulated a “shut up” debt over years and years.
Senator Warren could have delivered Coretta Scott King’s message and concerns appropriately and effectively, without the “interview me on MSNBC” drama. But she wasn’t there to deliver those concerns, she was there for the drama. And in truth, she got it and then some.
When it comes to calling fellow Senators racists or misogynists, Democrats should at long last be told to shut up. But when it comes to raising real concerns and objections, even race-related ones, both parties should still be able to speak up. It can be done properly.
As for Warren running in 2020, I hope she never shuts up about that. With her in the race it will be that much easier for “mysterious conservative Republican savior who primaries Trump” to win the general election.
One more thing: I don’t generally like “they started it” arguments, but when it comes to silencing people, Democrats have been doing it for years, and successfully. That’s exactly what Warren was trying to do. It’s exactly what Hollywood liberals do and social media censors do and even your liberal coworkers do. Like Movie Bob, they don’t want you to have the opportunity to speak. They want you to sit down, shut up, bake the cake, share the bathroom, and like it. And if you don’t you’re a social justice criminal. If they don’t want to be silenced by Rule 19, maybe they shouldn’t be trying to silence everyone else with the Rules of PC. Just a thought.