I believe that we need a new rule for Congressional/Senatorial Hearings.
The necessary and proper purpose of such hearings is to provide Congressional/Senatorial committees an opportunity to obtain information concerning an issue that is within the committees’ legislative purview, presumably to assist the committee members in considering legislative matters.
The information comes to the committees in the form of documents and testimony. The process in the case of documents and witness testimony should be quite straightforward, which is to say that committee members should review the documents and ask questions of witnesses.
Unfortunately, that is not the way it works in the case of “high profile” hearings, particularly when a “high profile” witness is testifying in televised proceedings. Instead, what we see is politicians on both sides of the aisle
bloviating making longwinded statements of their own positions on an issue. They either outright make statements or preface a ten word loaded question with a 1,000 word statement.
The information gathering purpose of the hearing is lost in the political, self-aggrandizing blather, all of which is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand – information gathering. This posturing serves no one’s interest, except for that of the bloviators themselves and a press corps that thrives on politics being a blood sport.
We need a new rule.
If I were declared to be King, the following rule would go into effect immediately.
1. The only persons permitted to speak in declarative sentences are the witness and the committee chairperson and in the case of the latter, only to enforce the rules, including, of course, King Jimbo’s Rule.
2. The only things permitted to emanate from the mouths of the committee members are interrogative sentences (i.e. they must end in a question mark), and they must be calculated to elicit factual information from the witness. This is to say that questions such as, “You’re a big, fat liar, aren’t you?” don’t pass muster. Such quasi-questions will be treated as forbidden declarative sentences.
3. The Three-Strike Rule applies. Committee members may be admonished twice for uttering declarative sentences. The third time they forfeit their remaining time. Smart Alecks who would try to sneak in a few declarative sentences at the very end of their allotted time would forfeit their time at the next televised committee hearing.
Yo, King Jimbo. Wouldn’t this be a violation of the committee members’ First Amendment rights?
Fair question, given that bullshit is indeed protected by the First Amendment, particularly political bullshit. However, King Jimbo’s rule is not unconstitutional, because it is a narrowly crafted, reasonable time, place and manner restriction on speech. The politician/committee members can bloviate to their heart’s content at press conferences, in press releases, on television “news” programs and the like. The just can’t bloviate while they are being paid by the people to gather information in a venue where their opinions are utterly irrelevant.
Alas, but I’m not the King, but one can always dream.