There is no doubt that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was well within his rights to silence Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren during the heated debate over the confirmation President Donald Trump’s appointee for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions. She broke the rules of decorum, she was warned, and she chose to ignore said Senate rules. Mitch seized the opportunity and put her on mute.
The strategy was a poor one, though. If his intent was to suppress the information contained in the decades old letter from Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr. (offering her opinion on Sessions’ merits for a judgeship 30 years ago), he failed miserably. Instead of just allowing Warren speak to an audience that had long ago made up its mind on how they were going to vote on the nominee, McConnell gave Warren a huge platform to stand on and a gun full of ammunition.
Had anyone else composed that letter besides Mrs. King, this would have been a nonissue. It was Mrs. King, though. Right or wrong, any opinion offered by the King family on the issue of race relations is considered gospel by most. Instead of confining the contents of that letter to those watching the hearing on CSPAN, Warren was allowed to make her point to every news outlet in the world. Sessions, already dealing with dubious accusations of racism certainly didn’t need this letter getting even more air time. It just looks… bad.
Instead of focusing on the amazing work Senator Sessions was a part of in bringing down a very active Ku Klux Klan during his tenure as Alabama Attorney General, we’re going to hear about his condemnation from the spouse of the greatest Civil Rights leaders in history. Instead of being recognized as the man who led the case that ended in the execution of the Klan’s leader, he’s instead going to end up looking like he was under one of those hoods. This one mistake by McConnell will echo down the chamber halls for a long time, drowning out the progress that Sessions made for Civil Rights.
However false the accusations of racism may be about Republicans, silencing King’s letter from being read only serves to advance that unfounded stereotype. People, especially politicians, should always consider the saying ‘just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.’ This will not stop Sessions from being confirmed but the stink will stick to him for a long time. If Mitch can only play checkers while Warren is playing chess, maybe he should consider letting a fresh mind take over the leadership role.
– Jeremy Hobbs