Late Wednesday night, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took to the Senate floor to deliver an impassioned speech about the need for civility and decorum to return to the Senate. Senator Rubio comments come on the heels of recent controversy stirred by Senator Elizabeth Warren when she imputed the reputation of fellow Senator Jeff Sessions on the Senate Floor just before his confirmation as Attorney General.
Senator Rubio delivered a long overdue condemnation to his colleagues in the Senate regarding the recent state of politics in the Senate and behavior by Democrats:
One of the great traditions of our nation is the ability to come forward and have debates, but the founders and framers and those who established this institution and guided it for over two centuries understood that that debate was impossible if in fact the matter became of a personal nature.
I want people to think about our politics here in America. I'm telling you guys I don't know a single nation in the history of the world that's been able to solve its problems, when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country. This is the most important country in the world, and this body cannot function if people are offending one another, and that's why those rules are in place.
[T]urn on the news and watch these parliaments around the world where people throw chairs at each other and punches and ask yourself how does that make you feel about those countries? It doesn't give you a lot of confidence about those countries. I'm not arguing that we're anywhere near that here tonight, but we're flirting with it. We're flirting with it in this body and we are flirting with it in this country. We have become a society incapable of having debates anymore. In this country, if you watch the big policy debates that are going on in America, no one ever stops to say I think you're wrong, I understand your point of view, I get it. You have some valid points, but let me tell you why I think my view is better. I don't hear that anymore.
Senator Rubio highlighted that Republican Senators have long refrainedfrom such unbecoming behavior out of respect for the institution and decorum of the Senate. He noted two recent, prominent examples of the confirmations of Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry:
Some very nasty things have been written and said about Secretary Clinton, and I think the Senate should be very proud that during her nomination to be secretary of state, despite the fact that I imagine many people were not excited about the fact that she would be secretary of state, to my recollection and perhaps I'm incorrect, not a single one of those horrible things that have been written or said about here, some of which actually did accuse her of wrongdoing were ever uttered on the floor of the Senate.
Senator Rubio concluded with a warning of sorts and urged the Senate to return to the proper decorum owed to the institution and the nation:
The fundamental reality...is that this body cannot carry out its work if it is not able to conduct debates in a way that is respectful of one another, especially those of us who are in this chamber together…if this body loses the ability to have those sorts of debate, then where in this country is that going to happen? What other forum in this nation is that going to be possible? And so I would just hope everybody would stop and think about that…If this body isn't capable of having those debates, there will be no place in this country where those debates with occur. And I think every single one of us, to our great shame, will live to regret it.
Unfortunately, Senator Rubio's foreshadowing was all too right. Yesterday, Mr. Charles Cooper, a well-known and an extremely well-qualified Supreme Court litigator, withdrew his name from consideration to be Solicitor General of the United States. Mr. Cooper cited the current nature of Senate and the circus games the Senate Democrats are playing.
After witnessing the treatment that my friend Jeff Sessions, a decent and honorable man who bears only good will and good cheer to everyone he meets, had to endure at the hands of a partisan opposition that will say anything and do anything to advance their political interests, I am unwilling to subject myself, my family, and my friends to such a process.
The result: America is left caught in the middle. Senators Schumer and Warren and the rest of the Democrats are hurting America by not allowing a real, fair debate of President Trump's nominees. Rather, they just want to unnecessarily slow down the gears of government in an unprecedented way.