By: Dan McLaughlin – nationalreview.com –
The past month has not exactly been the finest hour for Congress. Sure, the institution itself has clanked along and somehow managed to avert a government shutdown. But its members have showcased a really astonishing variety of failures to conform to the most basic standards of behavior. These people seemingly don’t know how to open a door, how to speak or dress like adults, how to act in a theater, how to function as a team, how to commit crimes, or even how to tell their health is failing.
Exhibit A: Bob Menendez. The desire for a place in the history books may be a laudable one, but not when it means becoming the first senator indicted in two separate scandals. The cartoonish corruption of Menendez — bills stuffed in jackets with his name on them, gold bars with traceable serial numbers — is astounding even for the man who occupies a seat once vacated by Harrison Williams after Abscam. Menendez was googling the value of gold bars after returning from an influence-peddling trip to Egypt. He offers the totally implausible excuse that jackets full of cash is some sort of Cuban family tradition. There will always be petty crooks in Congress, but stupid and brazen ones? And yet somehow, after the feds raided Menendez’s home and found all this incriminating evidence that pointed to him selling out his country, Chuck Schumer let Menendez keep on chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 15 months.
Exhibit B: Jamaal Bowman. The New York progressive firebrand pulled a fire alarm in a House office building, apparently in an attempt to stop a vote on a Republican bill to avoid a shutdown. The stunt, more suitable for a middle-school delinquent, forced the evacuation of the building and an hourlong delay in the vote. Not a great look for a guy whose party wants interruptions of congressional business treated as insurrection and sedition. He was caught on video doing it. Bowman, himself a former middle-school principal, has ridiculously claimed that he was confused between the fire alarm and the button to open the door. A grown man, much less a member of Congress, should know better. He now faces potential sanctions from the House and accomplished nothing by doing so. For the cherry on top, he had to walk back calling Republicans Nazis for noticing what he did.
Exhibit C: Lauren Boebert. You might have expected the right-wing populist from Colorado to tone things down a little this year after barely surviving a reelection challenge in a good Republican environment in 2022. Or, if she was going to go down swinging, you might have expected her to do so over some cause or at least a political stunt. Instead, she got kicked out of a musical in Denver after not just vaping but making out in an indecent manner. On a first date with a guy she then dumped. If this, as is widely predicted, spells the end of Boebert’s career, it will be one of the most humiliating exits in congressional history.
Exhibit D: John Fetterman. The hulking Pennsylvania Democrat who had a near-fatal stroke last year has struggled to perform the basic functions of a senator. But that’s no excuse for refusing to dress like a grown-up. Fetterman, who lived off his parents until he was almost 50, insisted that the Senate change its dress code so he could wear a hoodie and shorts. Schumer played along, but it sparked a revolt led by traditionalists Mitt Romney and Joe Manchin (it’s hard to think of anything more calculated to offend Mitt Romney) and joined even by Schumer’s second-in-command, Dick Durbin. As a compromise, Fetterman will at least have to dress like an adult to go on the floor of the United States Senate and to vote.
Exhibit E: Matt Gaetz. The MAGA movement’s ultimate Florida Man is the son of an establishment politician, so he should know how party politics works and know how to avoid self-inflicted wounds. He has learned nothing. He led a pointless and failed uprising against McCarthy’s plan to avoid a shutdown and is threatening to topple the speaker even as his party barely has enough votes to run the House. Gaetz himself could soon face expulsion following a House Ethics Committee investigation for “allegations, including campaign finance violations as well as claims of taking bribes and using drugs.” His plan is to do what any one of us would do if found to be too big an embarrassment even to serve in Congress: run for governor.
Exhibit F: Jasmine Crockett. The Texas congresswoman, leading off with “let me give y’all a little tea while we’re here,” couldn’t control her potty mouth in a public hearing in the Biden impeachment inquiry: “When we start talking about things that look like evidence, they want to act like they blind.” Waving a picture from Donald Trump’s boxes indictment, she went on, “These are our national secrets! Looks like in the shitter to me.”
Exhibit G: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Speaking of people who refuse to speak like adults, consider this bizarre “how are you, fellow kids” tweet from AOC:
This doesn’t make a lick of sense, and members of Congress shouldn’t try to imitate teen slang and internet memes if they’re going to be incomprehensible to everybody else.
Exhibit H: Dianne Feinstein. The longtime California senator, who died on Friday at age 90, may seem out of place on this list; whatever my political disagreements with her, she spoke, dressed, and carried herself with dignity so long as she was capable of doing so. She even dutifully showed up to work the day before her death. But hanging on to office so far into her obvious physical and mental decline degraded the institution and resulted in repeated public humiliations when she had to be told how to vote or even, in one case, told that she had announced her retirement. If the others on this list seem incapable of joining the world of adults, Feinstein refused to recognize that she’d left it at the other end. Others could take a lesson.
Unsurprisingly, this list is dominated by people from the populist fringes of each party. I haven’t even mentioned George Santos, who has kept his head down amidst all this while under his own indictment. And don’t even ask how this month went for Virginia state house candidate Susanna Gibson or the Texas state senate. Maybe instead of representatives we should just follow the lead of California governor Gavin Newsom, who decided to cut out the middleman by replacing Feinstein in the Senate with a Democratic fundraiser who doesn’t even live in the state. At least there’s no pretense of statesmanship involved.
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