You have to wonder when the American people are going to finally tire of having their intelligence insulted by duplicitous members of the Republican Party who — not content with spreading known misinformation about the results of the last presidential election or about the necessity of universal vaccine administration — are now trying to convince the public that they should be questioning President Joe Biden’s mental competency.
It’s not like the average American (or at least the ones who have avoided scampering down the QAnon rabbit hole) hasn’t had ample opportunity to witness President Biden speak coherently on multiple occasions with an eloquence that the former guy couldn’t muster even when he was forced to stick to his teleprompter script.
Still, this morning there was Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), the ranking GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spewing questions to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that accused Biden of being mentally “disadvantaged” and claiming that the Democratic president was a mere puppet figure being manipulated by some unknown behind-the-scenes power figure.
Senator Risch may not have the pervasive media profile of some of his more publicity-seeking Republican colleagues like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), or Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but he did gain some notoriety for somehow managing to fall asleep during Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial last year.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 22, 2020
At a hearing that was perhaps Senator Risch’s only opportunity to grill the Secretary of State about the details of the recent withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the Idaho politician instead engaged in this exchange with Secretary Blinken who had difficulty even keeping a straight face during the absurdist line of questioning.
There’s real questions right now as to who’s making the decisions,” Senator Risch pontificated as he spread a conspiracy theory he likely picked up in the sordid corners of the far-right internet.
“We know for a fact that the President of the United States is, uh, somewhat disadvantaged here in that someone’s calling the shots,” Risch dissembled.
“He can’t even speak without someone in the White House censoring it or for signing off on it. As recently as yesterday in mid-sentence he was cut off by someone in the White House who makes the decision that the President United States is not speaking correctly. So I’d like to know who this person is,” he continued in his rant.
“This is a puppeteer act if you would and we need to know who’s in charge and who’s making these decisions,” Risch said, comparing Biden to a ventriloquist’s dummy.
The Idaho Senator went on to claim that “somebody in the White House has the authority to stop the President’s speaking ability.”
“Who is that person?” Senator Risch insisted on knowing.
The Secretary of State laughed as he gave his obvious reply:
“There is no such person,” he chortled. “Again, the president speaks for himself and makes all the strategic decisions and is informed by the best advice he can get from around him,” Blinken responded.
Unwilling to be deterred by Blinken’s straightforward denial, Senator Risch continued to flog the dead horse of his allegations.
“Are you unaware this is actually happening? It happened yesterday at the interagency fire center. It was widely reported and the media is reporting on it and it’s not the first time it has happened, it has happened several times, and are you telling this committee that this does not happen and there’s nobody in the White House and pushes a button and cuts him off mid-sentence?” Risch pressed the secretary.
Blinken only deigned to respond with a single word:
“Are you saying that didn’t happen?” Risch shot back.
“Senator,” Blinken replied, “I really don’t know what you are referring to. All I can tell you is having worked with the president for now 20 years, both here on this committee and in over the last nine months at the White House, the president very much speaks for himself.”
Senator Risch then insisted on continuing to score political points with the MAGA base by approaching his query from a different direction.
“Let’s take a different attack. He does speak for himself, but what happens when somebody doesn’t want him speaking? You are telling us you don’t know anything about this, somebody cuts him off in mid-sentence, is that what you are trying to tell this committee? Because everybody here has seen it.”
Secretary Blinken was surely losing patience as he refused to take Risch’s bait once again.
“Senator, I am telling you, based on my own experience with the president over the last 20 years, anybody who tried to stop him from saying what he wanted to say, speaking his mind, would probably not be long for their job,” Blinken said.
Fortunately, each senator only gets a limited amount of time to question those testifying at Senate hearings, or Senator Risch might still be trying to pass his false allegations off as gospel in his cross-examination of Secretary Blinken.
You can see a clip of Senator Jim Risch’s cynical performance at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today in the video below.
Sen. Jim Risch presses Secretary of State Blinken about who in the White House has authority to "press the button" and cut off President Biden's mic.
"There is no such person. Again, the president speaks for himself." pic.twitter.com/q5EdBQ6nEO
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 14, 2021
Original reporting by Sarah K. Burris at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.