Cheryl Levi

A battle of wits in the House Oversight Committee

Once respected, the US Congress has descended into a boorish, name-calling embarrassment and we all share some of the blame
Screenshot of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a House Oversight Committee hearing that devolved into personal attacks. May 16, 2024
Screenshot of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a House Oversight Committee hearing that devolved into personal attacks. May 16, 2024

A few days ago Congress embarrassed themselves and their voters yet again with an exchange in the House Oversight Committee. They were meeting over the question of holding Attorney General Garland in contempt, but it erupted into a verbal brawl when Marjie Taylor Greene went off-topic.

Congresswoman Jasmine Crocket: Do you know what we’re here for?

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene: I don’t think you know what we’re here for. I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you are reading.

Congresswoman Alexandria Cortez: That is absolutely unacceptable! How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?

Congresswoman Greene: Are your feelings hurt?

Congresswoman Cortez: Move her words down!

Congresswoman Greene: Aww

Congresswoman Cortez: Oh girl…baby girl…

Congresswoman Greene: Oh really?

Congresswoman Cortez: Don’t even play!

Now, I have to admit, I didn’t understand some of Congresswoman Cortez’s references, but I was not as lost as some of the white middle-aged congressmen who sat in that chamber.

The meeting rolled into a discussion of what qualifies as a personal attack when Congresswoman Crocket asked if “bleach blonde, bad built, butch body” would qualify ( a clear reference to Congresswoman Greene). The only funny part of this sickening exchange was Congressman Comer’s response to Crocket’s words:

Comer: a…a what now?

Is it me, or are the representatives of the American government becoming more and more embarrassing?

It turns out, it’s not just me. This Congress has been labeled the “worst Congress ever” by the Washington Post, and the “dumb and dumber Congress” by CNN. According to Joe Neguse, Democrat representative from Colorado, “this will go down as the least productive Congress since the Great Depression. In all fairness to the Congress that served during the Great Depression, however, columnist Dana Milbank of the Washington Post clarifies that they didn’t begin their first session until December. That puts our Congress back up there as the #1 least productive Congress in history.

They have passed a measly 22 bills into law in the previous session, one of them establishing a commemorative coin and another two renaming medical centers.

But this Congress hit some other milestones as well. According to a November Gallup Poll, it has earned one of the lowest approval ratings in history. In that poll, only 15% of Americans approved of Congress, while 82% disapproved. They were also the first to be forced to expel a member (George Santos) for using his campaign funds to buy Botox, designer clothes, and to pay for pornographic websites. They have censured more of its members than any other Congress since 1870, making one wonder whether that is the fault of its members or the Congress itself. Both are equally bad. And in case you are wondering if congressmen realize what an embarrassment they have made of this democratic institution, 35 Republicans and Democrats have retired this year. They know.

Some have blamed the behavior of this Congress on their faithfulness to Trump. though I am not sure how that would account for Alexandria Cortez’s remarks, “Oh girl…baby girl,” in the middle of a congressional session. It seems that the lowering of the IQ of many of these representatives (both Republican and Democrat) would account for the interaction that took place a few days ago in the House Oversight Committee. The branding of our politicians would account for it as well. Marjorie Taylor Greene is aware that her voters appreciate her ridiculous tactics, so she has increasingly become one of the most outspoken embarrassments of this Congress. Once we started calling our representatives AOC and MTG instead of using their given names we all contributed to the dumbing down and branding of our governmental representatives. Let’s face it, we all share some of the blame. And don’t forget, we voted for these people.

Congress was once an honored institution. We studied its history and structure in high school civics classes. We respected the dignity and deep historical significance of the institution. We looked up to our representatives. But I am a high school teacher. I am all too familiar with the petty sophomoric behavior of three high school girls in a fight. It is becoming increasingly impossible to respect our congressional representatives. They have made a mockery of one of America’s most sacred institutions.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.