Con­gres­sional grand­stand­ing

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion - John Stos­sel Com­men­tary

Con­gres­sional hear­ings were cre­ated to ed­u­cate law­mak­ers so they have knowl­edge be­fore they pass bills or im­peach a pres­i­dent.

Not to­day. To­day, hardly any ed­u­ca­tion hap­pens.

Dur­ing the Pres­i­dent Trump impeachmen­t “tes­ti­mony,” leg­is­la­tors tried to score points. At least five times, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., shut down crit­i­cism by shout­ing, “Gentle­man is not rec­og­nized!”

I get that politi­cians are ea­ger for “face time” in front of a larger au­di­ence, but I as­sumed they would at least try to learn things. Nope.

Maybe they don’t want to ask real ques­tions be­cause they fear look­ing as dumb as then-Sen. Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, did at a hear­ing on Face­book. He asked Mark Zucker­berg, “How do you sus­tain a busi­ness model in which users don’t pay for your ser­vice?”

“We run ads,” smirked Zucker­berg. “I see,” said Hatch.

What’s ob­vi­ous to most peo­ple some­how eludes the obliv­i­ous “ex­perts” in Congress.

At an­other Face­book hear­ing, Congress grilled Zucker­berg about his plan to launch an elec­tronic cur­rency called Li­bra. Zucker­berg said, “I ac­tu­ally don’t know if Li­bra is go­ing to work, but I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant to try new things.”

He was right. But in­stead of ask­ing about tech­no­log­i­cal or eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions of the idea, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, asked Zucker­berg, of the com­pa­nies part­ner­ing with him, “how many are headed by women?”

“Con­gress­man, I do not know the an­swer,” replied Zucker­berg.

“How many of them are mi­nori­ties?” asked Green.

Politi­cians’ sloppy ig­no­rance is ex­tra­or­di­nary. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai about iPhones, cit­ing a story about his grand­daugh­ter us­ing one, lead­ing Pichai to ex­plain, “Con­gress­man, iPhone is made by a dif­fer­ent com­pany.”

To­day’s pos­tur­ing is not what the founders had in mind when they in­vented hear­ings in 1789.

Ge­orge Ma­son said mem­bers of Congress “pos­sess in­quisi­to­rial pow­ers” to “in­spect the Con­duct of pub­lic of­fices.”

Yes! In­ves­ti­gate govern­ment. But to­day, they are more likely to threaten CEOs and bully op­po­nents.

“Are you stupid?” then-Rep. Dar­rell Issa, R-Calif., said to one wit­ness. They want to show­boat, not learn. Of­ten, they ask ques­tions even when they know the an­swers.

“Ms. DeVos, have you ever taken out a stu­dent loan?” asked Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, D-Mass., of Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos. “Have any of your chil­dren had to bor­row money?”

War­ren knows that DeVos is a bil­lion­aire, but she wanted to score points with her fans.

One of the louder show­boaters to­day is self-pro­claimed so­cial­ist Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y. She asked Wells Fargo boss Tim Sloan, “Why was the bank in­volved in the cag­ing of chil­dren?” “We weren’t,” replied Sloan. Some of to­day’s hear­ings are use­ful in that we get to see how ab­surd and ig­no­rant our rep­re­sen­ta­tives can be.

Dur­ing a hear­ing on mil­i­tary per­son­nel be­ing sta­tioned on the is­land of Guam, Rep. Hank John­son, D-Ge­or­gia, said, “My fear is that the whole is­land will be­come so overly pop­u­lated that it would tip over and cap­size.” Re­ally. He said that.

Then there was the time Rep. Max­ine Wa­ters, D-Calif., chair of the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, sum­moned bank CEOs to Wash­ing­ton and de­manded, “What are you guys do­ing to help us with this stu­dent loan debt?!”

“We stopped making stu­dent loans in 2007,” Bank of Amer­ica’s Brian Moyni­han told her.

The Chair of the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee didn’t even know that her own party kicked bankers out of the stu­dent loan busi­ness, in­sist­ing that govern­ment take over?! Ap­par­ently not. She is so ea­ger to blame busi­ness for govern­ment’s mis­takes that she didn’t re­search her own topic.

The more I watch politi­cians, the more I hate them.

Let’s give them less power.

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