This is not exactly a scoop, but I thought I’d ask it anyway: Why do members of Congress have to make speeches when they’re assembled to seek answers to questions from key government officials?
It’s happening as I write this brief blog post.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is quizzing Secretary of State John Kerry about the U.S. plan to defeat and destroy the Islamic State. But without fail, from senators on both sides — Democrats and Republicans — are embarking on long-winded soliloquies before getting to whatever question they want answered from the nation’s top diplomat.
Kerry, of course, knows the score. He served in the Senate for nearly three decades and engaged in some tiresome speechmaking while grilling witnesses before the very committee he once chaired.
Many of out here in the Heartland know what gives, too. Politicians by definition usually are in love with the sound of their own voices. So they want to hear themselves being heard, yes?
I’m reminded of the time during Senate confirmation hearings to decide whether Samuel Alito should join the U.S. Supreme Court. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee gave each senator 30 minutes to “ask questions” of the nominee. Then it came to Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. CNN put a clock on Biden, who then pontificated for more than 28 minutes.
Biden eventually asked the question and Alito had less than two minutes to respond. Time ran out and the chairman called on the next senator.
I’d much rather hear what a witness has to say hear for the umpteenth time what a senator of House member thinks about this or that issue.