Refusing to answer proper questions in a legitimate governmental hearing is contemptuous — not just in the rhetorical sense but in the legal sense. To analogize: In court proceeding, if a witness refuses to provide a responsive answer to a question, the judge will strike the non-responsive answer from the record and direct the witness to address the question head-on. If the dodging persists, the witness can be held in contempt and imprisoned. Such episodes may also form the basis for an obstruction-of-justice charge.
It is just as illegal to obstruct a congressional proceeding.
Contempt of Congress and obstruction of the Senate’s constitutional advice-and-consent obligation is the only way to interpret the performance of Samantha Power during Wednesday’s hearing on her nomination by President Obama to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Power has a long history of decrying “crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States.” Of demanding that the United States apologize for its sundry “sins.” Of condemning “the role U.S. political, economic and military power has played in denying such freedoms to others.” Of calling for “not tweaking but overhauling” of U.S. foreign policy. Of seeking to subordinate American national interests to “the interests of the global commons.” Of expressly calling for the U.S. to surrender sovereignty to international institutions (such as the U.N. and the International Criminal Court). And of agitating for “a historical reckoning” of America’s alleged crimes. Not content with various American acts of contrition, she would have our government institute “a doctrine of the mea culpa” as a pillar of our foreign policy. By her lights, at least up until this week’s confirmation conversion, our nation is an arrogant, exploitative serial criminal with much to apologize for.
With that as background, we turn to Ms. Power’s exchange with Senator Marco Rubio at the hearing. Power Line’s Scott Johnson recounts it well. The senator tried to assess the nominee’s fitness and inclination to represent American national interests at the U.N. — rather than the U.N.’s interests at the White House — by probing Power’s assertions about America’s overarching criminality and her specific allegation that “I would categorize the Rwanda situation as a crime … permitted by the United States.” Power’s obdurate refusal to answer the questions is summarized by Fox News as follows. Rubio asked Power, “Which [crimes] did the U.S. commit or sponsor that you were referring to?”
“Again sir, I think this is the greatest country on Earth,” Power responded. “We have nothing to apologize for.”
Rubio wasn’t placated with the nebulous reply, pressing her to explain further, saying, “So, you don’t have any in mind now…”
“I will not apologize for America. I will stand very proudly, if confirmed, behind the U.S. placard,” said Power.
Just when it appears the exchange may be over … think again. Rubio trudges onward. “I understand,” he says, “but do you think the U.S. has sponsored crimes…?”
“I believe the U.S. is the greatest country on earth,” Power reiterates.
And on it went.
Now, I confess that I have not been as outraged by the Power nomination as a number of my friends, who are campaigning vigorously against it. Mind you, I am no Power fan. I’m quite sure she’d be dreadful. But the problem here is not so much the quality of this particular nominee — who happens to be a powerful influence on Obama, the guy making policy, and will remain one regardless of what administration post she fills. The main problem is the U.N. itself. It is an anti-American institution, an international enterprise in eroding the sovereignty, liberty and security of the American people — with a big old bull’s-eye on the Bill of Rights.