A Telling Anecdote About Today’s Congress

The New Yorker recently published a profile of Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas. Cotton is the kind of guy almost everyone to the left of Attila the Hun would consider a dangerous conservative, but The Curmudgeon will say one thing in his defense: he appears serious and earnest.

And here’s how one of his Senate colleagues responded to that earnestness, according to The New Yorker.

“I remember the first time I met Tommy,” Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina congressman, told me. “We were debating a medical-malpractice bill on the floor of the House, and he comes up and starts talking about the details of the bill. And I said, ‘First of all, who are you?’ He said he was the new congressman from Arkansas. And I said, ‘You can’t be from Arkansas, because you’re wearing shoes.’ And then he starts telling me to read some law-review article about malpractice by Robert Bork or someone. And I said, ‘Dude, the chess club meets around the corner.’ ”

As Gowdy illustrates with a bravado that reveals him to be a fool, Congress increasingly is not a place for serious people to consider, discuss, and debate serious things. It’s a place for political gladiators to do battle, heedless of the prize and interested only in winning – and winning not on behalf of the people they represent but at the expense of their opponents.

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