There must be a way to discipline, even remove from office, a U.S. lawmaker who did what Sen. Mazie Hirono did to Attorney General William P. Barr.
On being discovered by network TV cameras for the first time on Wednesday, the senator from Hawaii, with a profile hovering around sea level — give or take a few inches — suddenly transmogrified into a flaming defamer.
And got her 15 seconds of national fame.
“Mr. Barr, now the American people know that you are no different from Rudy Giuliani or Kellyanne Conway or any of the other people who sacrificed their once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar who sits in the Oval Office,” Ms. Hirono said.
“Being attorney general of the United States is a sacred trust,” she said. “You have betrayed that trust. America deserves better. You should resign.”
“Insolence” seems barely adequate to describe the lady’s behavior.
That she was reading from staff-written notes lent a bit of unintended humor to an otherwise jarring bit of impudence for the grandstand that — judging from facial expressions — may have slightly jarred even some of her Democratic colleagues.
That her (or anyone else’s) staff would think they could put such disrespect in a senator’s mouth and get away with it is a sign of the times.
Not a good sign.
To make her mark, the senator decided to speechify rather than use the time allotted to her to respectfully grill Mr. Barr about the special counsel’s Trump-Russia report.
But the howling Hawaiian hellion was in the telling, not asking, mood.
So she turned her defamation hose on the president, his attorney general, his personal attorney and his presidential counselor.
The latter three, she averred, had sold their souls to defend what she said was the small-time swindler and liar who occupies the Oval Office.
Many of us watching the Senate hearing wondered how Mr. Barr could restrain himself from leaping from behind the witness table to wring the presumptuous insulter’s throat.
That he remained the gentleman attorney general of the United States that he was under President George H.W. Bush and now again is under Mr. Trump actually served the current president and the Republican brand well.
It’s not that Republicans never stoop to this level of destructive partisanship.
Back in 2009, when President Barack Obama was telling a joint session of Congress about how his health care plan would not be available to illegal immigrants, Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, shouted: “You lie!”
Some Republicans joined Democrats in calling Mr. Wilson’s behavior unacceptable and disrespectful. Mr. Wilson apologized.
In 2002, Mr. Wilson was at it again, this time accusing Democratic Rep. Bob Filner of hating American and of making up the allegation that the U.S. supplied chemical and biological weapons to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Again, Mr. Wilson apologized.
But that’s one Republican’s intemperance versus that of dozens of Democrats in the House and Senate who regularly — and in the vilest ways not imaginable until the last few years — dump on the president of the United States and any Republicans who gets near him.
That’s one reason that Mr. Barr’s restraint only made Ms. Hirono look all the more like the guttersnipe she and most of her fellow Democrats have become.
People in the rest of the country get that. They get that Democrats have turned the healthy partisanship necessary for a properly functioning republic into something your mind can’t help associating with the likes of MS-13.
Most Americans want this unnecessary ugliness, inspired by out-of-control Democratic hatred of Mr. Trump, to stop.
Let’s face it. We’ve never heard congressional hearings conducted at this unacceptably insulting, ad-hominem level until now.
It adds a new and embarrassing meaning to “American exceptionalism.”
The challenge for innovative thinkers reading this is to find a way to end the abuse of congressional hearings while preserving federal lawmakers’ constitutionally ordained check on what, since the Lyndon Johnson era, we have come to call the “imperial presidency.”
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