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Two Extraordinary Moments in Congress

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

This past week, the House of Representatives descended into parody, which is hard for it to do. Most members of Congress long ago decided to become parodies of politicians. Now the entire institution is a parody of itself.


The first extraordinary moment was the least noticed. On Oct. 23, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the House Financial Services Committee. This is where I should make a customary disclosure that this past year, Facebook served as a sponsor for my annual Resurgent Gathering.

There to talk about Libra, a cryptocurrency Facebook intends to create with private sector partners, Zuckerberg instead received a spanking from Democrats upset with his lack of knowledge about how many gay people work for him. One member of Congress demanded to know why Zuckerberg did not know how many women, people of color and gay people worked at outside law firms that work for Facebook. Another wanted to know how many black people use Facebook and was outraged when Zuckerberg said Facebook did not track people by race. It is bad to track people by the color of their skin but also bad not to.

Things took a further bizarre turn when members of Congress asked Zuckerberg why they were allowed to lie on Facebook. Zuckerberg said they should not but he was not going to be the hall monitor stopping them. It is really extraordinary that members of Congress want Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO of a private company, to block these members of Congress from communicating with their constituents.

Zuckerberg's position is that a great many things are subjective; what one person views as a lie, another views as truth. He does not want his company to be the arbiter of the issue. If one person believes boys can become girls -- which many view as true these days -- and someone else says this is not biologically possible, why should Zuckerberg step in? Likewise, if a Democrat says a Republican voted for something he or she did not vote for, why should Zuckerberg ban the ad instead of simply letting the world see the Democrat is a liar?


It is a truly remarkable turn of events that members of Congress want a private corporation to protect the American public from their own politicians. Perhaps the politicians should censor themselves and be loud and vocal about what they believe are their opponents' lies instead of having Mark Zuckerberg play teacher on the schoolhouse's playground.

The other extraordinary scene played out the same day as a group of Republican congressmen stormed the secure room where Democrats and Republicans were meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony about the impeachment. The Republicans want the matter brought out into the public. While I agree with them, there is precedent for this to happen behind closed doors -- including their own Benghazi depositions and the initial impeachment inquiry of Richard Nixon, which met behind closed doors for four months before opening up to the public in a formal process.

What was so extraordinary is that about half the Republicans who stormed the room claiming they wanted to know what was happening were Republicans already entitled to be in the room. It raises a question: If these Republicans are so willing to storm the room to disrupt the proceedings, why are they not willing to leak the supposedly exculpatory testimonies from the witnesses?

We should not presume these people are fully respectful of the process. After all, many of them leaked like sieves during the closed-door Benghazi matter. Why were they so willing to leak to damage Hillary Clinton back then but so unwilling to leak exculpatory information to protect President Donald Trump now?


Republicans are right that the process is partisan and flawed. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is a partisan hack who should not be allowed in charge of such a serious investigation. But process arguments will not help. Either the President did demand Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden in order to get money or he did not. Making this about process suggests the Republicans have no real defense to the President's behavior.

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