If any American still wonders why numerous polls in recent years indicate Congress is held in low esteem, they need to look no farther than Attorney General William Barr’s appearance Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee.
The purpose of the hearing was presumably to question and obtain information from the nation’s top law enforcement official.
As it turned out, this was never the intent.
Democratic members of the committee were far more interested in airing their talking points for the TV cameras and berating Barr than they were in obtaining information. One of the most petty and shameful moments in the hearing occurred when Barr asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler if they could take a five-minute break, presumably for a restroom visit.
The chairman’s curt “No” demonstrates the Peter Principal, which suggests that individuals rise until they reach their level of incompetence. It also speaks volumes as to why Nadler was not allowed to head the flawed impeachment effort directed at President Donald Trump, which is normally handled by the Judiciary Committee.
On those infrequent occasions when Barr was able to respond to questions, it became clear why committee Democrats didn’t want to hear his response. The answer is they don’t want to hear a truth that doesn’t fit their narrative.
When asked a question about the defund the police movement, the attorney general responded it would prove to be a disaster.
Barr also told the committee that “Rioters in Portland and other cities are carrying out an assault on the government” when they attack federal property like courthouses.
Perhaps those particular Democrats who believe an attack on a federal courthouse is a justified form of protest should issue an apology to the Southern Confederacy. As we recall, the bloodiest conflict in American history was ignited by an attack on a federal facility called Fort Sumpter.
Of course, an apology could be a bit awkward. Because of their party’s association with slavery, secession, segregation, Jim Crow and the Klan, those members of the party who hold to the aforementioned view would effectively be apologizing to themselves.
It should also be noted that it would not have been necessary for federal agents to protect the Portland courthouse if local officials had been willing and able to perform their constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property. After more than 50 nights of riots in that city, their failure to do so is evident.
The bottom line is that Barr is a distinguished public servant with an impeccable reputation who has served two different administrations as attorney general. He deserved respect but was subject to rude and childish behavior. He deserved much better.
“Have you no decency?” a quote from an earlier political era seems appropriate to ask after the political theater that was in abundant supply at the Barr hearings.
From our vantage point, decency as well as decorum seemed in very short supply Tuesday.