Contempt of Congress

The founder of a firm for which I once worked was a human resources department nightmare. He smoked cigars when it was illegal. He demeaned nearly everyone. He died before the “me too” movement began (almost certainly a good thing) and his favorite word was stupid especially when shouted at someone else. He would extend the first syllable endlessly and pronounce it “you.”

The Mueller hearings last Wednesday reminded me of the sound of that word –“stuuuupid.”

Two Committees of the House of Representatives – Judiciary and Intelligence – decided to spend the last eight hours before leaving on vacation for six weeks trying to make Special Counsel Robert Mueller say or do things they themselves were too feckless and cowardly to say or do by themselves.

The Democrats wanted him to do their job of ridding themselves of President Trump by prosecuting him, clapping him in irons and frog marching him off to prison.

The Republicans wanted him to exonerate the President or, failing that, they would try to discredit the entire investigation.

The President wanted attention and yet another opportunity to repeat his “no collusion no obstruction” mantra.

The witness did not want to be there at all and it showed. He did none of those things.

Hearts and minds remained precisely where they had been before the charade.

There is, however, one reason for optimism: 97% of Americans had sense enough not watch it on television.

I watched about half and that is what reminded me of the firm founder’s favorite word. A therapist might find fault with thinking of myself as stupid, but at least the human resources department would not.

We are in a severe disdain deficit because there is not enough to be spread around among elected officials, the political parties, their consultants, the press and cable news. In their shameless quest for whatever currency drives them – money, attention, clicks, peer approval, votes or reelection – nobody will call out our political process for the naked emperor that it is.

If further evidence is needed, the two hearings on Wednesday are exhibits A and B.

Democrats, Mueller and his team wrote you a playbook. It is not his job to run your plays. If you lack the political spine to impeach the President, that’s on you. Stop whining.

Republicans, you know you have a crappy hand because “not indicted” is not exactly a ringing endorsement, especially when the Office of Legal Counsel says a sitting President can’t be indicted. If you do not know that there is room between indictment and exoneration, hire a lawyer and stop wasting our time.

Mueller answered most of the questions with yes, no or true. Well done him. He owed nobody anything and he showed great restraint.

Had I been in his chair, I would have spent weeks preparing vicious retorts to the stupidity of the questions and especially of the questioners.

Eventually one of the outraged idiots on the podium would have threatened me with contempt of Congress to which I would have replied, “you got that right.”

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At the suggestion of a reader, let’s have a contest.

Come up with the nastiest or cleverest response to a real or fictional idiotic Congressional question that you might give if you were a witness.

Include it in a comment.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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7 comments

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  • To get the contest started:

    “Thank you for that question Congressman. I understand that literacy tests are not permitted for voting but do you think they might be useful for keeping people like you from holding office and asking stupid questions? You know, like that one.”

  • Thank you congressman,
    Are you really as angry as you purport to be or is that an act for your constituents?

    If these proceedings were not being taped by C-SPAN, would you really speak to me with such self-righteous indignation?

    Could you re-read your question a little faster? I know you are training to be an advertisement qualifier for radio after your term ends.

    Thank you for the question, did you read the report? If you had, I am not sure why you would ask me that question.

    Yes, thank you for the question, I appreciate that you needed me here so that you could get your mug in front of the country for 5 minutes. You might start by thanking me.

    Thank you Congressman, I suppose there are dumber questions to be asked, although it would hard to think of one, let’s see what the next representative from California has to say.

    Thinking of your constituents, Congressman, do you really believe that question got you more votes?

    Thank you Congressman, that’s surely a useful question, although, I cannot for the life me think how it relates to the investigation.

    • Long time reader and longer time friend, Tim Warburton puts up some serious entries that will sharpen competitive minds. The bar is high but give it a try.

  • Possible response:
    I wonder if you might be willing to sort of peruse back through your very exciting narrative and see if you are able to pluck out a question for me.

    • Again, I like the subtlety. It would be a joy to watch the response fly high over the head of the questioner.