Even before Elizabeth Warren testified yesterday before the House Oversight Committee, Representative Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) told CNBC he "questioned the veracity" of Ms. Warren's answers to Congress (video here). Mr. McHenry went on to say the consumer watchdog was essentially lying about an agreement she had with the committee about how long she'd be asked to stay at the hearing. Ms. Warren's face froze in disbelief.
Immediately, the ranking Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, chided Mr. McHenry. Later, Representative John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky) apologized on behalf of the committee. (The full video of the confrontation is here, and worth watching.)
Since then, Mr. McHenry's Facebook page has been flooded with complaints, drawing what some are seeing as a rather ironic call for civility from his staff. As Ari Berman noted today in The Nation, this is par for the course for a congressman who followed the example of disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. From Berman's 2006 piece on "All DeLay's Children":
DeLay recently named McHenry one of his potential successors, an endorsement the freshman accepted enthusiastically. "I'm blown away," McHenry told the Washington Times. "I'm so excited that Tom DeLay would say that about me" -- a fitting compliment to a pupil who's earned a reputation as the party's "attack-dog-in-training."
This is consistent with the larger right-wing pattern. Republicans are disgusted with a consumer advocate, looking out for the public’s interest, but impressed with financial industry criminals who nearly destroyed the global economy (and who direct generous contributions to the GOP’s coffers). Sanity dictates that Warren is a hero, which leads Republicans to treat her like a villain.
But it’s not just the bizarre and twisted GOP priorities that offend; it’s also the classless and rude manner in which Republicans conduct themselves.
Given how Rep. McHenry's and other Republican critics behaved yesterday, I'm not sure Ms. Warren could have "soothed" them with anything other than "I quit."