The friction on Capitol Hill during the confirmation hearings to fill President Trump’s cabinet is to be expected, I suppose. It’s especially so, when you consider that for the closing half of the 2016 election season, Democrats were sure we’d all be saying “Madame President” today.
Today’s clash featured Minnesota Senator Al Franken, throwing his flaming darts at Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
During the committee hearing for Trump’s attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions, Franken took the opportunity to lash out at Cruz, who had earlier accused him of attempting to trash Sessions’ record on civil rights.
“Let’s talk about who is trying to impugn the record of another senator,” Franken said Wednesday, ahead of the Judiciary committee vote. “I think Senator Cruz is trying to impugn mine.”
Cruz charged that during the committee consideration of Sessions, Franken had accused the Alabama senator of misrepresenting his record of civil rights cases without any facts to back it up.
Franken’s beef seems to be that Cruz had stated that in a 1986, charges had been brought against Sessions for making racially “insensitive” remarks, but that the accusations had been recanted.
Cruz wasn’t present at today’s hearings, so Senate Majority Whip, John Cornyn (R-Tx.) objected with a bit of old school courtesy:
Don’t badmouth people who aren’t around to defend themselves. It makes you look like a punk.
“Senator Cruz did the very thing Senator Cornyn is accusing me of doing,” Franken responded.
“In my absence … he personally went after me, he personally impugned my integrity. You didn’t object then, did you?”
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Judiciary Chairman, was willing to allow Franken to continue on in his rant, but told him to leave Cruz’s name out of it.
“You put the chairman in an awful bad position at this point, because I don’t disagree with anything Senator Cornyn said but I’m not sure I want to rule anyone out of order,” Grassley said. “Can you please leave personalities out of it?”
Franken continued, only to be interrupted with another objection from Cornyn, who said, “It would be a decent and honorable thing to do it in the senator’s presence.”
“Well get him here, but he’ll have a tape of it” Franken said.
For all of the objections and the petty side arguing from Senator Franken, Sessions was approved by the Committee 11-9, so he moves forward for the Senate vote, which he is expected to move through, easily.
In the meantime, Franken may need to take some time in the mirror, in order to affirm that he’s good enough, he’s smart enough – and gosh darn it – people like him!