Winston Churchill, the greatest half-American to ever live, is famously quoted as having said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
The quote is exactly half-right. The best argument against democracy is actually a five-minute conversation with the average lawmaker.
Never clearer has this been than watching the U.S. Senate this week confront the deadly pandemic ravaging the world today. Senators might have taken up the fight sooner except that from Jan. 16 to Feb. 5 of this year — as the virus was marching across the globe and headed for America — the Senate was entirely consumed with a hotly partisan, political effort to undo the 2016 election and remove President Trump from office on fantastical charges that even they knew were fraudulent and would never actually remove him from office.
Since then, more than 80,000 Americans have died from the virus. Worldwide, more than a quarter-million have perished.
So it was really great to see the Senate’s health committee finally arrive on the scene and hold its first hearing with the nation’s top frontline health officials — officials who for months have been huddling every single day with Mr. Trump.
It would not take long before the hearing devolved into the same silly nonsense that dominated the impeachment trial that the Senate was obsessed with when the pandemic first reached America’s shores.
Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the committee, is from Washington, the state that was ground zero for the virus in the United States. She first got elected to the Senate on a platform of wearing tennis shoes. I wish I were making that up, but I am not.
This is the woman sent to fight a pandemic? Like the man said: “Best argument against democracy.”
Mrs. Murray and her tennis shoes wasted no time turning the hearing into a partisan circus.
“Families across the country are counting on us for the truth about the [Chinese] COVID-19 pandemic [from a wet market in Wuhan], especially since it is clear they will not get it from President Trump,” she said.
That was literally the first sentence out of the woman’s mouth after opening pleasantries. Never have such unserious and unfit people been tasked with confronting something so deadly serious.
From there, Mrs. Murray and her tennis shoes rambled on and on, never straying more than a sentence or two from attacking her great orange political nemesis in the White House.
“The fact of the matter is President Trump has been more focused on fighting against the truth than fighting this virus and Americans have sadly paid the price,” said the woman and her tennis shoes, who ground the U.S. Senate to a complete halt for three weeks earlier this year as the virus stalked elderly people in nursing homes back in the state she was supposed to be representing in the U.S. Senate.
Anyone hoping for seriousness from across the aisle in the committee would be sorely disappointed.
In response, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, and the committee chairman, heaped praise on himself, his committee, Mrs. Murray and her dung-covered tennis shoes.
“We have some very strong views, but we’re able to work together and to express those views and respect each other and our witnesses,” he oozed. “And a big part of that goes to Sen. Murray and her staff. So, thank you for that.”
Yes, thank you, Mrs. Murray. Chairman Alexander is so classy he takes time during this global pandemic to pause and congratulate himself. And his committee. And Mrs. Murray. But he failed to compliment Mrs. Murray’s dung-laden tennis shoes by name.
These people’s motto has always been: “Vote Republican. We are not as bad as Democrats.”
Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who just had his cellphone seized by the FBI over charges he traded stocks based on insider information about the pandemic, tackled the scurrilous and irrelevant claims by Mrs. Murray and her tennis shoes more directly.
“Has anybody in this administration ever asked you or any member to take the foot off the gas of trying to find a cure or any type of countermeasure,” he asked Mr. Trump’s top health official.
In what world is this a good question? Seriously, who asks a question like this? No “average voter” would ever ask a question this dumb. Only a politician would ask something this stupid.
“No, senator,” replied Dr. Anthony Fauci, generously. “Not at all.”
Reminds us of the time when Rep. Hank Johnson, a lawyer and Democrat from Georgia representing voters for more than a decade in Congress, asked a Navy admiral if the build-up of U.S. Marines on one end of the tiny island of Guam might cause the island to “tip over” and “capsize.”
With an entirely straight face, the good military man responded: “We don’t anticipate that.”
Again, I wish I were making it up. Truly, the best argument against democracy.
From there, the nasty partisan rancor and low-minded thievery never let up.
Socialist Bernie Sanders, who would have won the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 if it had not been stolen from him, expressed his grave concern that a vaccine might be discovered but that it won’t be free. Because, after all, Mr. Sanders entire political crusade is about forcing Americans to provide free stuff to other people.
With a straight face, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration responded: “Sir, the payment of vaccines is not a responsibility of the FDA.”
Again, the greatest argument against democracy.
Which brings us, as always, back to Winston Churchill. Who also observed that democracy is the worst form of government ever invented, except for all the others that have been tried.
That one he got completely right. Apparently, it came entirely from his American mother’s side.
• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @charleshurt on Twitter.