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Attorney General William Barr’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28 gave woke Twitter some of the clips and soundbites it’s been missing these last few weeks. Except, this time, House Democrats didn’t bother to wait for their “gotcha” moments, as they do at most hearings in the Trump era. Instead, they were content with talking down to the attorney general. They shamed him for believing that federal courthouses should be protected from mobs, for refusing to conflate violent mobs with peaceful protesters, and for daring to ask for a five-minute break in a six-hour hearing, during which the chairman took catnaps. Twitter was in an uproar over the number of times the phrase “I reclaim my time” was shouted to stop Barr from bringing the hearing back to reality by actually answering the questions being directed at him.
“Our members expect sincere answers today, and our country deserves no less.”
Democrats in Denial
From the get-go, Nadler claimed that the Justice Department’s protection of a federal courthouse in Portland was in support of President Trump’s campaign interests, not the rule of law. The chairman’s outlandish claim was immediately parried and shut down by Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH). Jordan played an eight-minute video featuring pundits from CNN, MSNBC, and NBC refusing to acknowledge the violent demonstrations occurring throughout the country against police officers, federal officials, statues, and federal buildings. In one of the more notable moments of the hearing, Barr sternly questioned whether the Democrats on the committee believed that federal buildings should be protected, doubting whether any of the Democrats present would defend the Capitol Building if protestors mobbed it.
While there has been plenty of reaction online, the response on social media was probably the most exciting aspect of this hearing. Perhaps as a result of Twitter’s utter distaste for the Trump administration, any time a member of President Trump’s cabinet is called to testify on Capitol Hill, the hearing will often trend at #1 for hours at a time. Twitter was especially pleased with Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) for their astounding bravery in silencing Barr’s attempts at answering their questions with the proper context.
Sarcasm aside, even fellow Democrats on Twitter pointed out the weak showing from the committee, understanding that these hearings are designed to make the witnesses say unsavory things for Americans to hear out loud. Instead, what Democrats got were accusations and rants they had already heard, with few opportunities allowed for Barr to slip up on his own words.
The usual Democrat representatives typically going viral on Twitter for shouting down and hounding uncomfortable witnesses like Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Hank Johnson (D-GA), gave a poor performance, allowing Barr to shut down their criticisms in humorous, witty fashion for spectators. In almost every timeslot given to each Democrat representative, an “I reclaim my time” could be heard when it became clear that Barr would not meekly allow his words to be manipulated by his opponents.
While woke Twitter was mostly pleased with the shouting match going on in the congressional chamber, there was an unmistakable sense of doubt from moderates. Barr had unquestionably been caught off guard a handful of times during the hearing. Still, the focus was all on the chastising coming from Democrats who have been hurtling the same insults and accusations against the attorney general since his Mueller report testimony. In the end, not many rational thinkers believe that House Democrats made a good showing, in terms of their professed goals. It’s become clear that for most moderates on Twitter, hearing one side rant for three hours while gloating about their supposed victory has gotten a bit stale.
Read more from Jose Backer.