Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Sessions, the Coretta Scott King quote and Rule XIX

Are you seeing any ginned-up outrage on your social media feeds over Senator Elizabeth Warren being told to sit down as she started to read a quote from Coretta Scott King that spoke ill of Jeff Sessions' character?

Here's the essence of the whole thing:

Tuesday night, the Democrats tried to show their base they’re willing to get off the mat and get back into the ring, this time to unsuccessfully block one of their own, a man they all like personally, but have to now verbally destroy to satisfy their base, Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Why? He’s going to be a rather effective Attorney General, and the left hates that. So deep into the night, up rose Massachusetts Senator and apparent partial Native American, Elizabeth Warren. She began to tear into Senator Sessions and used a Coretta Scott King quote to demean his character, without him being present to defend himself, by the way, on the Senate floor, and continued to ramble on until she began to notice there was a stir going on in the normally empty chamber whenever she speaks. The stir was Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who interrupted her, appealed to Nebraska’s Steve Daines, who had drawn the short straw in serving as the chair for the evening. The appeal? Rule XIX. 
Rule XIX, for those of you not steeped in the rules of the United States Senate, deals with the decorum Senators must maintain when exercising floor debate. Sub-section 2 of Rule XIX says this:
2. No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.
When Elizabeth Warren accused, even by covering it in Ms. King’s words, Senator Sessions of “using the awesome power” of his office to chill the vote of black citizens, which is demonstrably untrue, she was warned by the chair. She continued. Mitch McConnell then cited sub-section 4 of Rule XIX when he arrived on the floor to put a stop to this nonsense:
4. If any Senator, in speaking or otherwise, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer transgress the rules of the Senate the Presiding Officer shall, either on his own motion or at the request of any other Senator, call him to order; and when a Senator shall be called to order he shall take his seat, and may not proceed without leave of the Senate, which, if granted, shall be upon motion that he be allowed to proceed in order, which motion shall be determined without debate. Any Senator directed by the Presiding Officer to take his seat, and any Senator requesting the Presiding Officer to require a Senator to take his seat, may appeal from the ruling of the Chair, which appeal shall be open to debate.

So that's what went down. Faux-cahontas tried the accusation-of-bigotry gambit, not just behind a podium at some luncheon, but while holding the Senate floor, and got busted for it.

But, of course, "Rule XIX sub-section 2" doesn't have the click appeal of "straight white guys try to keep the words of an American icon from being read in America's most august chamber."

That evokes feeeeeeelings, doncha see.

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