I'm not sure how to express that state of nature wherein something is more than transparent so I'll just say that it was mind numbingly obvious that the sole purpose of the hearing was to express outrage at Johnson's decision to strike down California's new emission standards. Well, that and verbally torturing Johnson for daring to support the presidents environmental views in a decision he clearly had every right to make.
Johnson acted out the role of the long suffering public servant bearing up under insulting, hectoring and often obtuse questioning. He knew what was required and avoided reacting to the onslaught in any way that might be interpreted as an act of lese majeste'. Why? True senatorial decorum left the Senate with the walking sticks and spittoons. Why continue to treat these professional politician hacks as if they are Clay and Lodge just because they warm the same seats? Boxer describes herself as just a girl from Brooklyn, Lautenberg made a fortune printing paychecks and Sanders was a Socialist academic. They all purport to stand for egalitarianism. Why not treat them like the posturing pooters they are?
Oh, I forgot. They hold the purse strings of the Republic.
Then again, the Administration will end in just months. What are they going to do, defund the EPA in a fit of peak?
It would take just one brave soul to turn the tables on these micro-Robespierres by employing that same egalitarian spirit during hearings. lasting fame will be his, who just treats these puffed up ninnies as they deserve on national television. Here are my suggestions for such a hero.
- Whenever Boxer, Kennedy, et al, remind you that you are under oath, remind the listening CSPAN audience that the Senators are not. This is the perfect opportunity to suggest that if all parties to such hearings were under oath, taking into account the long ignoble history of Congressional mendacity, they would be held in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
- When the ex-small town lawyers on the committee take the tack that your testimony is the perfect opportunity to exercise their half-remembered law school cross examination technique, ask them to just feed you the the words they wish to put in your mouth. Offer to try them out and see if they comport with your thoughts or actions. Then just reiterate your position in your own words. Answer any further such assaults with the statement; "Senator I am here at your request/subpoena to testify, not submit to cross examination. I have answered that question to the best of my ability under oath. Now if you have any other questions I am here to answer them. If not, I, like you, am a public servant with duties to perform and will take my leave." (Or you could just say" Hey, I'm a busy guy and have a plane to catch.") Of course they might hold you in contempt of Congress, but just imagine them standing firm on jailing a man for defending himself on camera from being hectored by Barbara Boxer. Remember Ollie North? When the public sees it's chosen Solons badgering someone with an actual job, the Solon's lose. And remember, you're making history here.
- The Senators are fond of leaning on you with the excuse that hey have only say, four minutes question time. So they interrupt. If this persists, just say, "Senator, I am not the one who sets time limits here. If the Committee deemed my testimony important enough to call me here, I would have thought you would have blocked enough time to hear me out. I mean it's not like you don't take most of the year off."
- Never be afraid to to say, "Beats hell out of me Senator. Or. When I took the sand flea off the endangered species list I wasn't operating on the principle that I needed you permission to do so. I just thought it was a good idea."
- It's OK to say "Hell yes I talked to the White House, don't you?" Or, "As you know Senator, I work for the President and as strange as it may seem the President tends to appoint people with similar points of view as his own. Curious isn't it?" And, " Senator, if you think it's against the law for me to take direction from the President or his staff at the White House, you should have told me this when you confirmed me. I mean, I could be out playing golf!"
- When Senators remind you that they have a Constitutional right and responsibility to ask questions and exercise oversight don't back off. Say, "Senator you have the right to ask questions, I on the other hand have no corresponding responsibility to pretend your questions make sense. I also have a a constitutional responsibility to jealously guard the President's prerogatives and to react where your oversight strays into simple obstruction.
- When dealing with such as Kennedy or Lautenberg you may need to say the following. "Senator, you have repeatedly inferred that I am not only not telling the truth but that I am not a person inclined to tell the truth. In short you have gone beyond questioning my judgment to question my honor. Now I understand that as the perfect embodiment of the scum that elected you, the concept of personal honor may be alien to you. I just ask that you remember that Americans like myself hold this this thing called honor dear and since the abolition of the code duello I have no way to make you understand or call you to account."
- Finally I see no reason for our hero not to comment that "the purpose of this hearing is to publicly complain of your policy differences with the president under cover of the hearing process. Going through this charade is part of my job. I hope you get the support of the Sierra Club or whomever you're posturing for. As for me I intend to go out and have a stiff one and try to forget the whole thing."