BOSTON (CBS) – During a Senate debate Tuesday night over the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acted out the dream of many a disgruntled D.C. Republican – he ordered Sen. Elizabeth Warren to sit down and shut up.
It’s not entirely clear why McConnell decided to invoke a rarely-used Senate rule that bars senators from disparaging one another, since everyone in D.C. expects Sessions to win nomination – perhaps as early as tonight – on a party-line vote.
When we asked Warren during a one-on-one interview Wednesday if there was some bad blood between her and McConnell that we don’t already know about, she shrugged and said: “You’ll have to ask [him].”
But the episode showcases how ugly the mood is in Congress.
The Obama years were a time of bitter partisanship and aggressive obstruction by the GOP minority. Now, the roles have been reversed, but the acrid tone and personal venom is, if anything, worse than ever.
This episode will quickly be overshadowed by even nastier dust-ups, count on it.
But it may turn out to be something of an inadvertent gift to Warren, who’s been struggling to restore her superstar status among some Democrats and liberals with gripes about her refusal to endorse like-minded Sen. Bernie Sanders during the presidential race and her willingness to support the nomination of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
And it also lends insight into the mindset of McConnell, usually a skilled practitioner of inside politics, who unnecessarily made a heroine out of Warren by shutting her down during a reading of a letter from the late civil-rights icon Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Were you glad at some level that the Obama years and their nasty partisan gridlock came to an end?
Better buckle your seat belt.
Things are only getting worse.