June 15, 2017
Below is a perfect example of why civilized political discourse is no longer possible in the United States.
Twice in the past two weeks, first with deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and then again yesterday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the freshman Senator from California, Kamala Harris, chose to pursue an aggressive series of questions that many have interpreted simply as an effort to patronize, mock and/or embarrass witnesses before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But the questions asked by Harris, are not the real issue. She has the right, and frankly the obligation, to ask tough and probing questions.
The issue is that after asking those tough/probing questions Harris seems to have forgotten that witnesses are supposed to be given an opportunity to respond. Moreover, when witnesses are not allowed to respond, it’s the duty of the committee chair, who happens to be Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) in the case of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to maintain order and assure that “questioning” of a witness doesn’t morph into “badgering” of a witness.
And that is exactly what happened yesterday when Harris once again decided to interrupt Jeff Sessions nearly 20 times in just over 6 minutes of testimony. Here’s the full interview with a convenient “interruption counter”:
Of course, as soon as Chairman Burr interrupted to remind Harris of the rules of the Senate Intelligence Committee and her obligation to allow witnesses an opportunity to respond, something he’s also done with other colleagues as well, the Twittersphere erupted with accusations of racism and misogyny. Perhaps the most egregious, irresponsible accusation came from none other than CNN’s very own political commentator Keith Boykin.
Why do Republican senators only interrupt when Kamala Harris is asking questions? A black woman can't question a white attorney general? pic.twitter.com/0zD59hVH7E
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 13, 2017
But CNN wasn’t the only one to blast Burr’s interruption as sexist and/or racist…here are just a couple of other examples:
— b. insights (@BarbaraRacek) June 13, 2017
NBC News: Sen. Kamala Harris Again Interrupted by Male Colleagues https://t.co/GMvB8Da0fb
— Willis Ransom (@4Ransomm) June 14, 2017
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2017
Let me just say the fact that Jeff Sessions would tell @KamalaHarris, a Black woman that she makes him nervous, is a racist dog whistle.
— Lynn V. (@lynnv378) June 13, 2017
Of course, Harris has had a distinguished legal career going back to 1990 when she served as the Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California and culminating with two terms as California’s Attorney General before being elected to the Senate last year. Given that, perhaps someone could explain why it’s not supremely insulting and condescending to suggest that Kamala Harris should be given special treatment and exempted from committee rules simply because of her race and/or sex…that suggestion would seem to be more racist and/or sexist.
This article was posted: Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 5:30 am