Yesterday’s House hearing featuring Attorney General Barr was a new low in partisan grandstanding in Congressional hearings, which by itself is astounding. That condition has made many hearings unwatchable and embarrassing for a very long time, and during the Trump administration, in fiascos like Justice Kavanaugh’s hearing, the spectacle scarred the image of representative democracy itself. I tried to watch the recording of Barr’s hearing, and was shocked—shocked that the Democrats have become so uninterested in presenting even the illusion of fairness, shocked at the inability of the committee’s repulsive chairman, Rep. Nadler, to restrain his hateful demeanor. I cannot imagine an uglier image of the legislative branch. The transcript excerpts—I’m still waiting for the whole thing— were little easier to take. A little.
Among my Facebook friends, one particularly, a former D.C. journalist, is certifiably Trump Deranged. He literally is unable to go a day without posting a Charles Blow op-ed or the equivalent, or “Look at the horrible thing Trump tweeted!” message to go with pictures of his meals. His Facebook page is a nest of anti-Trump crazies—they flock there like addicts would head for a crack house. Yet in the middle of the Barr hearing, HE wrote, “Why won’t the Democrats give Barr a chance to speak?”
“I know your story,” one of the more infamously dim-bulb Congressmen, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia told Barr, interrupting him before he could complete a thought. “I’m telling my story. That’s what I’m here to do,” Barr replied.
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the committtee’s ranking Republican, protested, “For months you have tried to get the attorney general to come, He is here. Why don’t you let him speak?”
“The gentleman’s rudeness is not recognized,” Nadler answered. “Rudeness? Rudeness? Rudeness?” Mr. Jordan shot back. “Time after time, you refuse to let the attorney general answer the questions posed to him.”
This was another epic “It isn’t what it is” moment, the Democratic leader called an objection to his party’s unrestrained rudeness in its treatment of the #1 law enforcement official in the nation “rudeness.” At a certain level, even derangement and denial yields to reality. Trust me on this: if my friend was offended at the Democrats’ treatment of Barr, the Democrats are out of control. Oh, we knew that because it’s been objectively obvious for about four years. But now “the resistance” is noticing.
Russell Berman of The Atlantic, a relentless basher of all things Trump, was moved to write an article criticizing yesterday’s debacle. How could he not? At one point, Barr asked for a 5 minute break, and Nadler refused!
That’s the Left’s reaction; naturally the Right is going bonkers, but still making some salient points. John Hinderaker over at his Powerline blog wrote, after making the lay-up point that the Democratic treatment of Barr was both unconscionable and self-destructive, wrote, echoing Ethics Alarms “The Great Stupid” diagnosis:
The Democrats are committed to the view that what is happening in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta and other cities is mere “peaceful protest.” Thus, the Trump administration is unjustified in sending in federal officers to protect federal property, like courthouses. And to the extent that anything untoward happens, it is Donald Trump’s fault. This was the main theory that the Democrats tried to advance through their “questioning” of Attorney General Barr.
This theme is so stupid that it boggles the mind. Presumably most people have seen video footage of the violence that has taken place in cities like Portland and Minneapolis. They have seen violent assaults and burning buildings, long before any federal agents arrived. They have seen massed, armed criminals doing battle with police officers. Can the Democrats possibly be fooling anyone?
We are approaching a very weird election in which one of our major parties is taking a stand in favor of rioting, looting, arson, destruction of federal property, and violent attacks on law enforcement. The Democrats seem to think that this is a winning formula. If it is, our republic is doomed.
Do spare me the “yes, our republic is doomed” responses; despair and surrender are not constructive. I will, however, relate this depressing note: a member of my family, a brilliant lawyer and a moderate Democrat by current standards, actually argued to me that there was no reason local U.S. Marshals in Seattle couldn’t have protected the federal courthouse against those “mostly peaceful” rioters throwing Molotov cocktails. He really did.