In especially uncertain times, leaders lead, and followers follow. Few times in recent history has that been more obvious and apparent than during a remarkable exchange that took place on the floor of the U.S. Senate earlier today.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a short, sweet, and simple resolution that called on the Senate as a united body to condemn the widespread acts of mob violence that are taking place in cities across the country under the guise of protesting for justice for George Floyd.
Among other incidents mentioned in the resolution, Lee noted the “destruction of public memorials to historical heroes like Ulysses S. Grant, St. Junipero Serra, Miguel Cervantes, George Washington, Hans Christian Heg, and a reported plan to target a statue of Abraham Lincoln financed in 1876 entirely by private donations
from freed African-American slaves.” Lee’s resolution also pointed out that the mobs have shown “contempt for public safety as evidenced, among other crimes, by an unprovoked physical assault on a Wisconsin State Senator and the shooting of a motorist in Provo, Utah.”
The resolution was pretty straightforward, condemning mob violence while at the same time expressing the view that “law enforcement officers, public officials, and private citizens who suffer the mob’s violence and endure its scorn while protecting our communities from them deserve the thanks and appreciation of every American.”
Not surprisingly, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took issue with the resolution for a number of reasons, one of them bizarrely being that there was nothing in the resolution that expressly condemned President Trump’s rhetoric. Because apparently it’s his fault that statues of historical figures who had nothing to do with the Confederacy have been pulled down and set on fire by the very types of people who would probably vote for Democrats like Sen. Menendez.
Menendez tried to insert language into the resolution that would reference Trump. An incredulous Lee disagreed, and it was on from there. Here are some snippets:
What’s happening here? This is the U.S. Senate. Just so everyone is clear about the insanity that we just witnessed. I just proposed a nonbinding resolution condemning mob violence and Senate Democrats objected. I don’t know whether to be outraged or embarrassed for them.
This isn’t even a bill; it’s just a statement that says, “Mob violence is bad.” That Democrats can’t say “Mob violence is bad” without simultaneously taking a jab at the president of the United States? By the way, what about the mayor of Seattle? What about the City Council of Minneapolis? What about a countless other people who have perpetuated, or enabled, or facilitated or coddled mob violence across the country?
It’s one of the reasons why we’re not going to engage in this task of making it a political tit-for-tat—it’s not that. People are being shot, businesses are being looted, innocent Americans are being attacked and threatened.
Lives are being ruined, communities are burning, literally burning. So whose side are you on?
It was at this point Menendez objected, and called on presiding officer Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to “remind us of Rule 19”, which he did.
Rule 19, by the way, states that “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
Lee was undeterred by Menendez’s objections, and went on:
As long as we’re on the topic of Rule 19, it’s unbecoming to accuse a colleague of using language that is supremacy simply by reflecting on language and the Declaration of Independence, simply by reflecting on language that acknowledges the incivility and intolerability of mob violence.
But apparently that’s too much to ask today. I guess we should be thankful for clarity. Now we know we don’t have to ask. They told us how they feel about this resolution. You can’t really oppose this, it seems to me without being on the side of the mobs, of mob violence, of mob mentality, of cruelty, and intolerance and terror.
Now we understand what this resolution is about. I don’t think one can oppose this without being comfortable with those things. These mobs are not progressive. These mobs are not enlightened. These not mobs are not edgy, they’re not hip. They’re frauds. They’re dimwitted, phony drama addicts.
Menendez continued to invoke Rule 19 and at a certain point you could hear Cruz chuckling over Menendez’s requests.
Lee was spot-on here. If Democrats cannot simply support a straight-forward resolution condemning mob violence, then they are part of the problem. Lee was leading on this issue, while Menendez, on the other hand, was obediently following the mob. Speaks volumes.
Watch the video below for more highlights and lowlights:
People are being shot! Businesses are being looted. Innocent Americans are being attacked and threatened. Lives are being ruined. Communities are burning! And democrats refuse to condemn mob violence. pic.twitter.com/9moGpQ6MbC
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) July 2, 2020