On Wednesday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten testified before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, where the odious Rep. Jim Jordan tried to grill her on school closures during COVID and “culture wars.” To no one’s surprise, his effort was a flop.
According to the subcommittee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, the committee’s job is to investigate “the decision-making process behind school closures [during the COVID-19 pandemic] and the effects it had so that we can do better in the future.”
Weingarten was brought in by Republicans because the conservative movement in our country wants the trials and tribulations we all dealt with during the pandemic—in this case, school closures—to be blamed on workers in all sectors of society, especially teachers and school staff.
Like most Republican-led committee meetings, this one was part circus, part conspiracy theory, and all useless. Committee hearings under Republican leaders are a cauldron of hypocrisies—too many to enumerate here. This committee could have made an effort to actually find out how school closures impacted students and educators. But instead, the general tenor of the Republicans’ questions for Weingarten was “unions and labor rights are bad.” After enduring some new lows from moral sewer-dweller Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who used her time to attack adoptive parents (including Weingarten herself), Weingarten had to answer a series of Jordan’s “gotcha” questions.
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While Greene’s attacks on Weingarten were clearly personal, Jordan’s low-level interrogation was an attempt to paint Weingarten as a left-wing radical culture warrior for the implied crime of closing schools during a lethal pandemic. There are very few people who are less smart than Jordan, and Weingarten ain’t one of them, so Jordan’s plans blew up in his face.
Jordan, no stranger to wasting breath, began his interrogation by asking Weingarten, “Who cares more about a child's education, the teacher's union, or the child's parents?”
Weingarten replied that both parents and teachers care about children, and that obviously no one cares for individual children more than their parents. It’s hard to know what response Jordan thought he was going to get, but he evidently didn’t get the one he wanted—so he asked the question again. Weingarten easily circumvented Jordan’s sophomoric line of questioning, saying, “Look, I'm not here to be in a competition. Parents are so important in children's lives. Teachers are so important in children's lives, too.”
Jordan, whose cross-examination style might be a result of watching too many “L.A. Law” episodes, asked Weingarten, “Who are the ‘extremist politicians’?” The attempt to put Weingarten on her heels by employing a non sequitur failed miserably. Jordan read Weingarten’s writing aloud on the matter of school safety during the pandemic, where she asserted that “attacks by extremist politicians have undermined teachers in schools.” That led to this amazing exchange:
REP. JIM JORDAN: Well, who are the extremist politicians?
RANDI WEINGARTEN: I think you just heard one, sir.
JORDAN: So Ms. Greene’s one of them.
Indeed. Weingarten pivoted to explaining how the conservative preoccupation with “culture wars” is anti-educational, then implied that book banning is a tell-tale sign of having lost an argument. Another swing and a miss for Jordan!
It is important to note here that Jordan—a coward of a man who clearly likes to talk fast but allegedly kept conspicuously silent when young men under his charge were being sexually molested at Ohio State University—pretends to do a lot of busywork when he’s supposed to be listening. It is his attempt to seem like he’s got everything under control, but he so clearly has nothing under control. His next question: “Who started the culture wars?”
Weingarten responded by explaining, once again, that the moment you start banning books about people like Anne Frank and Roberto Clemente, you’ve stepped into a place that can only be called “wrong.” Jordan, desperate to resuscitate his pointless existence on this committee, tried a transphobic attack, which Weingarten redirected back to the question he said he was asking.
The Republican Party’s extremism comes with an enormous price: narcissistic incompetence. Even when they are in control of congressional committees, they cannot turn their circus “investigations” into anything worthwhile. Instead, like all Republican-led committees at this point, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is mostly a performance art space for right-wing political theater performed by dunderheaded goblins like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim Jordan.
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