McConnell Pointed Out Warren's Greatest Strength

by Lani Seelinger
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

I really thought the world was getting to the point where silencing a woman in a public forum was, like, passé. So 1910. But then enter Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans disagreeing with their female colleague, Elizabeth Warren. But one McConnell quote about Warren was especially revealing — not only in how McConnell chose to approach the matter, but also in how Warren did. And if you're looking for inspiration, for a model that you should follow for as long as this administration persists in trying to pull the country back decades, Warren is the perfect person to look to.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell, in referring to the incident on the Senate floor when he invoked Rule XIX to stop Warren from protesting against Jeff Sessions' nomination as Attorney General, said:

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.

As Warren said to defend herself, what she persisted in doing was reading the words of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, who had written a letter in 1986 condemning Sessions' civil rights record (Sessions has denied racism allegations). In normal times, repeating the assertions of such a respected leader would hardly be a risk — but these are not normal times.

While Warren did follow the rules and did not try to disrupt the Senate by continuing in her reading of King's letter, she later took to Facebook to broadcast herself reading it, a move that resulted in millions in views — likely significantly more than the already-provided C-SPAN audience would have given her. When she was warned and told to stop, she continued. When she was forced to stop, she stopped — but only until she could get her message out in a different forum.

This is really the perfect instruction manual for everyone else. Persist, even when warned. Persist, even when given some strange explanation that the opposition has pulled out of somewhere. Persist, because your words do matter. Persist, because you cannot allow yourself to be silenced.

McConnell may have gotten his way in the Senate chambers, but Warren was the one who got her voice out there more loudly. That's a victory, and it should not be under-appreciated. Sessions very well may be confirmed as Attorney General — and if that happens, then Democrats will need to take Warren's lead even more. I guess we have McConnell to thank for exactly one thing: pointing out exactly what his colleague was doing right.