Tuesday Bill Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee. I watched significant portions of the hearing live. Basically Barr lied, told right wing mythology tales (the latter is a subset of the former) and ran out the clock. A lot of progressives are angry; they have a right to be but they certainly shouldn’t be surprised. Let’s explore.
By official title Barr is the Attorney General of the United States. In reality he is Attorney General/Trump Consigliere/Minister of Propaganda. Many of us saw through his lies for what they are as they were uttered. Barr is banking on that number not increasing and in fact decreasing over time.
During a CBS interview on May 8th of this year Barr telegraphed his and Trump’s strategy: win in November at any cost; when he replied to the interviewer’s question with the following, “Well history is written by the winners, so I suppose it depends on (at this point he chuckled) who’s writing the history.” Now does the past, present or future lying and cheating surprise you? It certainly shouldn’t!
Barr justified the use of paramilitary troops against American citizens on the streets of American cities. He praised President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic while blaming the shortcomings on former President Obama. (Right wing mythology holds that the Obama administration should have developed a vaccine for COVID-19 before it existed). Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island had to press Barr hard to get him to begrudgingly admit that accepting aid from a foreign power in an American election is illegal. (It’s clear Federal Election Law.) Barr would not acknowledge the mathematical concept of proportion.
What Barr displayed was particular skill at running out the clock. Under standard House Committee hearing rules members alternate asking questions by Party and are limited to five minutes. By attempting to answer yes/no questions with irrelevant statements Barr ate up precious seconds and avoided actually answering the question while preventing more from being asked. He asked for questions to be repeated and feigned not understanding them. Barr may well be evil, but I don’t think he is an idiot.
It has become glaringly obvious that a determined amoral liar can simply run out the clock on even a skilled congressional questioner (and many are not very skilled at that art) when they are limited to five minutes. The obvious answer is to increase the time. The problem is you have to do it for both sides. Do you really want to give more time to the likes of Jim Jordan, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs etc.?
Barr displayed a cool, poker faced arrogance that reminded me of Dick Cheney’s classic reply, “So”. Barr and Trump have no intention of leaving office on January 20, 2021 regardless of the outcome of the November election. They are already setting up to challenge the results in the event that their cheating (there is no more descriptive word for what they are doing) fails.
Democracy’s best chance is an overwhelming win for Joe Biden this fall. This will be like a basketball game where democracy is the away team and all three officials are cheaters; if it is close democracy loses. Only an overwhelming performance has a chance of defeating the forces of evil. Barr has told us that he and Trump will cheat and as long as they remain in power they will write the history and therefore get away with it. VOTE!!!!!!
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