“She Was Warned…”

“…she was given an explanation, never the less, she persisted!”

This admonishment was spoken by Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate when he invoked a provision of the arcane and seldom used “Rule 19” of the Standing Senate rules in response to Senator Elisabeth Warren’s recitation of a letter written by the late Coretta Scott-King in 1986, to segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond (who conveniently neglected to enter the letter into the Senate record) expressing her deep concerns about the potential appointment of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to the court as a Federal judge.

McConnell claimed that Senator Warren “impugned the motives and conduct” of Senator Sessions in her reading of those past statements about Sessions from Ms. Scott-King and the late Senator Ted Kennedy (King’s letter accused Sessions of racial bias; Kennedy’s statement called him a “disgrace to the Justice Department”).

The letter finally resurfaced over thirty years after Ms Scott-King’s appearance before the Senate, when writers at BuzzFeed brought it to light. It was later published in full by the Washington Post.

You can see the entire letter and a transcript of Ms. Scott-King’s testimony before Congress here.

The move by McConnell was calculated to create maximum impact by virtue of its timing. Senator Warren was standing at the podium, reading the letter on the Senate floor when she was interrupted, mid-sentence, by McConnell’s suppressive tactic.

After a party-line vote of the entire Senate, the Republicans ordered Warren to sit down and not take part in the rest of the debate over Sessions.

In explaining his use of the invocation to silence Senator Warren, McConnell said “She was warned, she was given and explanation, never the less, she persisted…”

McConnell, without intending to do so, just created one of the greatest and most powerful campaign slogans ever uttered, for Senator Elisabeth Warren. Indeed, McConnell’s patronizing statement has already become an internet meme, often appearing with iconic images of women like Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai engaged in actions of protest and defiance, leaving little doubt that those scornful words will be coming soon to protest placards and feminist t-shirts near you.

Thanks Mitch! Now slip back into your shell and finish your hibernation. Spring is almost here and you are going to need your rest.

#Mitch The Angry Turtle


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