Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Friday, January 25, 2013

John Kerry hearing: Rand gets the better of Rubio... again

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are both early frontrunners for the Republican nominee in 2016. Each had two cracks at challenging two Democrat heavyweights this week. On January 23rd, Hillary Clinton was in front of the committee over the Benghazi attacks and a day later came the confirmation hearing for Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Not only did Paul do much better than Rubio in front of Clinton but he out-performed every other member of the Senate and House committees that questioned the outgoing Secretary of State.

So how'd each Senator do with Kerry? Once again, Paul clearly out-did Rubio and someone should really coach Rubio on how to question a witness; it's not his strong suit. One thing to watch for in both exchanges is how quickly Kerry is expected to answer. Remember, each committee member gets ten minutes to use as he or she chooses and the longer each member speaks, the more comfortable the nominee is because it means less time playing with the rope of your own words and positions. Paul seems to grasp this concept much better than Rubio does. Note how Paul wraps up his first question and expects Kerry to respond to it thirty seconds in.

Conversely, though Rubio demonstrates that he has a comprehensive understanding of international events, that's not why he's there. He's there to ask the very liberal Senator from Massachusetts some tough questions. Rubio takes up nearly half of his ten minutes showing cameras that he knows what's going on while Kerry does little more than root for the clock to keep running before he has to speak. In fact, such pontificating can be counterproductive in another way.

For example, during his opening four and a half minute speech, Rubio actually asserted that it's debatable to argue that the Honduran government's removal of Manuel Zelaya in 2009 was a coup. No it isn't. It absolutely was not a coup. Zelaya was a stooge of Hugo Chavez who attempted to seize power by usurping the Constitution. As such, he was constitutionally removed. That is not debatable.

Kerry inexplicably supported Zelaya in that circumstance and was irrefutably proven to be on the wrong side, on the side of a would-be communist dictator. Rubio would have been better off asking Kerry to explain why he supported Zelaya. Instead, he came across as willing to listen to an argument that says Zelaya was wrongfully removed. Kerry never addressed the issue in his seven-plus minute response.

Congressional hearings are most effective when the questions are like those found in a cross-examination. To cross-examine means to examine closely or minutely, the record of a nominee or witness. When you have a time limit, this is best done with short, direct questions. As you'll see, Paul does this very well. Rubio does not. In fact, Rubio never spoke after his opening remarks and when Kerry is done, you won't know what questions Rubio asked or if Kerry answered them.

Rubio is a smart guy but he needs some serious coaching in this area.

Here is Paul's exchange with Kerry:

Here is Rubio's exchange with Kerry:

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