Video: The Louie Gohmert "tapping" incident

To cleanse the palate, something none of us have ever seen before. (I haven’t, at least.) Today was the House Judiciary Committee hearing that I wrote about last night, at which Aaron Zelinsky and John Elias testified to suspected corruption by Bill Barr at the DOJ. One of the other witnesses was Donald Ayer, a deputy AG during Bush 41’s administration, who laid into Barr as a disgrace and a threat to the rule of law. He had five minutes to speak but apparently ran over his time. Under those circumstances, as I understand it, it’s the prerogative of the committee chair to decide whether to grant the witness extra time. The chairman in this case was Jerry Nadler, so yeah, of course the time was granted.

Gohmert didn’t care for it. But rather than object the old-fashioned way and accept that a Democrat-friendly witness is destined to be granted extra time by a Democrat-run committee, he…

Well, you’ll see.

“[T]he problem is that there are people in the world who think Gohmert should be a member of Congress,” said Tom Nichols on Twitter in reaction to the clip. (Another problem is the fact that Nadler is pitiful at keeping order, which is why Adam Schiff rather than he was tasked with conducing the House impeachment inquiry.) But a bigger problem is that Republicans will refuse to say publicly about this what they’ll certainly say privately. I think most GOPers watching the clip would admit — privately — that this isn’t the way to go about registering a legitimate objection. It’s an embarrassment to the party and beneath the dignity of the chamber, which is no mean feat given how little dignity Congress has to begin with. Publicly, though, partisanship will require them to pretend that it’s fine because Nadler broke the rules first or because it owned the libs or because Trump probably enjoyed it or whatever. E.g.,

It’s really the Trump phenomenon in microcosm. I’d be surprised if you could find more than a dozen Republicans in Congress who’d say privately that the president is fit for office. But publicly? Utter enthusiastic unanimity. Except for that Romney weirdo.

The punchline is that it almost certainly wasn’t Nadler’s ticky-tack extension of time for the witness that irked Gohmert. He just didn’t like what Ayer had to say about Barr and resorted to extraordinary measures to literally drown out his testimony, somewhat successfully. The sticklerism about rules was just a cover for more aggressive rule-breaking.