Virtual Anxiety: Klobuchar Rejects Use Of Virtual Testimony For Barrett Hearing Because There Is “No Back and Forth”

It seems as if people have gone virtually insane in this election year over remote testimony.  We recently discussed the absurd excuse cited by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that he would not appear for testimony to answer questions about his alleged misconduct in the Russian investigation due to fears for his health. He then however refused to appear virtually despite the earlier remote testimony of his former superiors James Comey and Sally Yates. Now, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), who once enthusiastically supported the use of “hybrid hearings,” has declared that remote testimony is entirely unacceptable because there is no ability to have exchanges with witnesses in a virtual space.  The objection to the use of a hybrid hearing for Barrett is now part of a wider campaign, but it is based on a clearly false premise. While such bizarre statements would have once risked being called a lunatic or a Luddite, it has produced little media scrutiny or commentary.

In speaking with Chris Wallace, Klobuchar rejected the use of remote testimony as completely unacceptable.  Wallace however noted that Klobuchar previously praised the use of such hearings. On May 6th, she sat for a remote confirmation hearing of Judge Justin Walker for the D.C. Appeals Circuit and thanked Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) for allowing the members to appear remotely.

Wallace reasonably asked if Klobuchar was now attacking the use of a hybrid hearing “to try to block a nomination that you frankly oppose fiercely.”

Klobuchar replied:

“Absolutely not. This is for the highest court of the land. And, yes we have had virtual hearings. I helped to put them together. It’s important to give senators that option. But you want to be able to go back and forth with this nominee.”

Wallace delicately pointed out that he and the senator were going back and forth remotely without any difficulty in that very interview.  Klobuchar then appeared to get tangled up in her narrative:

“Again, we believe you should have an in-person hearing. That doesn’t mean the virtual option wouldn’t be available, but why would you ram — I guess I’d turn the question around here, even though you get to ask the questions — Why would you ram this through when we don’t even have a COVID package done to make sure that people have health care.”

So you can have a hybrid hearing?

There is of course no difference in the “back and forth” of in-person as opposed to virtual testimony.  I have testified over 50 times in Congress and there is generally no interaction with the witness beyond the questions and answers. While some members will shake hands with a witness, even that practice would likely be curtailed in a live appearance during the pandemic.

There is a good faith objection that the Republicans have reversed their position with Merritt Garland on this nomination — just as there is a legitimate objection that Democrats like Klobuchar have reversed their prior positions from 2016. However, the objection that remote testimony does not allow exchanges with witnesses is obviously absurd.

Nevertheless, the Democrats now appear to be paraphrasing Woody Allen’s rule in arguing that “Eighty percent of [politics] is just showing up.”

Update: The President just said that he also has problems with virtual space in declaring that he would not “waste my time” in participating in the announced virtual debate with Biden. While one can question the necessity of this precaution, it is hard to see how a virtual debate for a presidential election would be a waste of time. It certainly would be of value to voters.

37 thoughts on “Virtual Anxiety: Klobuchar Rejects Use Of Virtual Testimony For Barrett Hearing Because There Is “No Back and Forth””

  1. Trump’s Covid Cocktail Made From Fetal Tissue; Science Administration Restricted

    The antibody cocktail for Covid-19 that President Trump touted on Wednesday afternoon was developed with cells originally derived from fetal tissue, a practice that his administration has moved to restrict.

    In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions.

    “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement in 2019, around the time of the ban.

    “Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted,” the statement added.

    Mr. Trump last week received Regeneron’s cocktail of monoclonal antibodies — essentially, antibodies synthesized in living cells and administered to help the body fight off the infection.

    To develop the antibodies, Regeneron relied on 293T, a cell line derived from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus in the 1970s. At least two companies racing to produce vaccines against the coronavirus, Moderna and AstraZeneca, also are using the cell line.

    Remdesivir, an antiviral drug Mr. Trump received, also was tested using these cells.

    “293Ts were used in testing the antibodies’ ability to neutralize the virus,” said Alexandra Bowie, a spokeswoman for Regeneron. “They weren’t used in any other way, and fetal tissue was not used in the research.”

    In a video released Wednesday, Mr. Trump praised Regeneron’s treatment, calling it a “cure” for Covid-19 and promising to provide it free to any patient who needed it. The company said on Wednesday that it had applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.

    Scientists noted that the trials of the antibody cocktail are far from complete, and that Mr. Trump is taking a variety of drugs that may have explained why he said he felt better.

    Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said that Mr. Trump might be right that the treatment he received has helped him in his fight with Covid-19 — but that his case alone doesn’t prove it.

    “I think it’s a reasonably good chance that the antibody that he received, the Regeneron antibody, made a significant difference in a positive way in his course,” Dr. Fauci, who is not involved in the president’s care, said on Thursday during an interview on MSNBC.

    Edited from: “Covid 19, Live Update: Treatment That Trump Called A ‘Cure’ Was Tested With Cells Derived From Fetal Tissue”

    The New York Times

    1. REGARDING ABOVE:

      This piece illustrates the impossible hypocrisy of the Anti-Abortion movement. Trump, whose support hinges on his willingness to ban abortion, is being treated with a Covid Cocktail derived from fetal tissues. Yet his administration has already imposed restriction on fetal tissue research. It goes to show, once again, that those opposed to abortion are willing to make exceptions when ‘their’ lives are affected.

    2. The original research was performed in 1970. You are assuming that in 50 years no other method of research has surfaced that would not require cells from a fetus. You assume that only cells from fetuses can be used for research purposes. Regeneron made the drug that Preident Trump receiived. In an interview with a reresentitive from Regeneron it is stated: The cell lines available today are not stem cells, embryonic stem cells or fetal tissue. Source: Busness Insider, October 8, 2020. Obviously research has advanced. Perhaps there are other uses for a fetus. Does it follow then that we should harvest them for the betterment of mankind?

      1. Oh, yes. April, 1970.

        It was a wonderful year.

        I was sent into Cambodia with the 2nd/14th Infantry, 25th Division.

        We flew out of Cu Chi on a Caribou which landed on Marston Mats (i.e. steel mat runways) on a newly cut runway on the border and humped in from there.

        Full combat load. 100 degrees. 95% humidity. Jungle, swamps, hills and valleys.

        You all missed a lovely hike and picnic.

  2. The best debate, in person or virtual, would be a modified Lincoln-Douglas style debate. The original — not the high school version.

    No moderator. Just a timer. Candidate 1 gets to ask candidate 2 a question. Candidate 2 has ten minutes to answer. Candidate 1 gets to respond to candidate 2 comments for five minutes. Then Candidate 2 asks a question of candidate 1.

    Three hour time limit with a break after 90 minutes.

  3. Shouldn’t Kobuchar and other Democrats be objecting to a virtual debate, based upon the premise they aren’t conducive to meaningful back and forth? What’s good for the goose…

  4. Obviously, President Trump will have to have meetings and debates remotely while he’s still positive for Covid-19. He is probably concerned with someone feeding Biden the answers.

    Biden is either not the person he used to be, or else he’s perfected the flipflop mid debate. In the debate, he said the Green New Deal will pay for itself. His website indicated he supported it. Wallace asked if he supported the GND, but then Biden said he did not. Oh, and also the GND will cost many trillions of dollars, though exactly how much is contested. Let’s just say it’s along the lines of, it will cost every penny we have.

  5. What is she talking about, you can’t have a back and forth exchange? Doesn’t she use Zoom? What’s the difference if she has a two way conversation with someone online, vs sitting across from them in a room? In fact, she can actually see that person better on a screen, as opposed to separated by the distance of the room.

    Did she plan to have a conversation with her hands on Barrett’s face? While hugging her? Ask Barrett questions while galloping piggy back in circles?

    At some point, we have to stop accepting this garbage.

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