Senate Republicans Should Have Let the Fool Talk


U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf (not pictured) during his testimony before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the firm's sales practices on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Last night, while left wing Senator Elizabeth Warren was ranting at a mostly empty chamber, Republicans moved to silence her using Senate rules which ban Senators from casting aspersions at one another during floor speeches.

Here’s how it went down:

The Senate subsequently voted to rebuke Warren for her comments. Senator Heidi Heitkamp voted against the rebuke, Senator John Hoeven voted for it.

In more than 13 years of observing and commenting on American politics I have learned two truths which I think apply to this situation.

First, the best way to undermine a fool is to let them talk. They are their own worst enemies.

Second, the best way to elevate a fool’s argument is to try and silence them.

Had Republicans merely allowed Senator Warren to finish tirade it wouldn’t have been headline news today. “Angry, far-left Senator denounces Republican as racist” is a routine and fundamentally uninteresting story. The sort of pablum which persuades very few.

A much more interesting story, one that has the potential to turn the heads of Americans, is “Senator silenced during speech critical of Trump nominee.”

Senator Warren was, for better or worse, elected by the good people of Massachusetts to represent them in the U.S. Senate. If Senator Warren thinks the best way to serve her constituents is to besmirch the reputations of her political enemies, so be it. That’s democracy.

The rest of us can hope Massachusetts voters chose to elect someone more prone to adult behavior next time around.

Besides, it’s not like the Senators don’t already spend plenty of time painting one another as monsters outside of their official floor speeches.