Lapsing Into Imprecision and Using the Wrong Words: Norm Eisen and Noah Bookbinder Edition | Blog#42

Lapsing Into Imprecision and Using the Wrong Words: Norm Eisen and Noah Bookbinder Edition | Blog#42

Norm Eisen and Noah Bookbinder published an op-ed: Pruitt’s Resignation Is Just the Beginning, in which they use the following language to describe Pruitt’s transgressions.

“The full extent of Mr. Pruitt’s ethics lapses were incredible even to those normally supportive of the president — the $43,000 soundproof room, the multimillion-dollar security details.”

With all due respect, Scott Pruitt didn’t lapse into anything. The commission of high crimes and misdemeanors is what Pruitt was hired to do as a Senate-confirmed high government official. No one who confirmed this criminal was unaware of his modus operandi when he was made a cabinet-level appointee, either on a personal or professional level.

Moreover, what Pruitt has done to the EPA is being done across the entirety of our government’s cabinet agencies, by each and every one of the appointees the Senate confirmed. HUD has not been damaged any less than the EPA. The Department of Education has undergone no less a destructive transformation than the EPA. The Department of State was gutted by Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo hasn’t done a thing to try and bring back the civil servants who left in disgust, even as he is negotiating with North Korea without experts to counsel him. FEMA and DHS have been behaving as if they are headed and staffed by the Ku Klux Klan. Pick a department, and the level of devastation is the same.

Who voted for Scott Pruitt‘s confirmation?

Voted “yes”

D
Joe Manchin III W.Va.
D
Heidi Heitkamp N.D.
R
Roy Blunt Mo.
R
Ron Johnson Wis.
R
Ben Sasse Neb.
R
Luther Strange Ala.
R
Dean Heller Nev.
R
Tim Scott S.C.
R
Michael B. Enzi Wyo.
R
Thom Tillis N.C.
R
Patrick J. Toomey Pa.
R
Orrin G. Hatch Utah
R
Johnny Isakson Ga.
R
Charles E. Grassley Iowa
R
Jeff Flake Ariz.
R
Todd Young Ind.
R
Roger Wicker Miss.
R
John Thune S.D.
R
Dan Sullivan Alaska
R
Richard C. Shelby Ala.
R
Marco Rubio Fla.
R
Michael Rounds S.D.
R
Pat Roberts Kan.
R
Jim Risch Idaho
R
Rob Portman Ohio
R
David Perdue Ga.
R
Rand Paul Ky.
R
Lisa Murkowski Alaska
R
Jerry Moran Kan.
R
Mitch McConnell Ky.
R
Mike Lee Utah
R
James Lankford Okla.
R
John Kennedy La.
R
James M. Inhofe Okla.
R
John Hoeven N.D.
R
Lindsey Graham S.C.
R
Cory Gardner Colo.
R
Deb Fischer Neb.
R
Joni Ernst Iowa
R
Steve Daines Mont.
R
Ted Cruz Tex.
R
Michael D. Crapo Idaho
R
Tom Cotton Ark.
R
John Cornyn Tex.
R
Bob Corker Tenn.
R
Thad Cochran Miss.
R
Bill Cassidy La.
R
Shelley Moore Capito W.Va.
R
Richard M. Burr N.C.
R
John Boozman Ark.
R
John Barrasso Wyo.
R
Lamar Alexander Tenn.

Voted “no”

R
Susan Collins Me.
D
Bob Casey Pa.
D
Kirsten Gillibrand N.Y.
D
Claire McCaskill Mo.
D
Jeanne Shaheen N.H.
D
Maria Cantwell Wash.
D
Elizabeth Warren Mass.
D
Ron Wyden Ore.
D
Sheldon Whitehouse R.I.
D
Mark Warner Va.
D
Chris Van Hollen Md.
D
Tom Udall N.M.
D
Jon Tester Mont.
D
Debbie Stabenow Mich.
D
Chuck Schumer N.Y.
D
Brian Schatz Hawaii
D
Gary Peters Mich.
D
Jack Reed R.I.
D
Bill Nelson Fla.
D
Patty Murray Wash.
D
Christopher S. Murphy Conn.
D
Jeff Merkley Ore.
D
Robert Menendez N.J.
D
Edward J. Markey Mass.
D
Patrick J. Leahy Vt.
D
Amy Klobuchar Minn.
D
Tim Kaine Va.
D
Mazie K. Hirono Hawaii
D
Martin Heinrich N.M.
D
Maggie Hassan N.H.
D
Kamala Harris Calif.
D
Al Franken Minn.
D
Dianne Feinstein Calif.
D
Richard J. Durbin Ill.
D
Tammy Duckworth Ill.
D
Catherine Cortez Masto Nev.
D
Chris Coons Del.
D
Thomas R. Carper Del.
D
Benjamin L. Cardin Md.
D
Sherrod Brown Ohio
D
Cory Booker N.J.
D
Richard Blumenthal Conn.
D
Michael Bennet Colo.
D
Tammy Baldwin Wis.
I
Bernie Sanders Vt.
I
Angus King Me.

Not voting

D
Joe Donnelly Ind.
R
John McCain Ariz.

Before Pruitt, we had Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services. He resigned his post for the exact same reasons: professional and personal misconduct.

In this age of Ferengi hypercapitalism, Koch-driven libertarian governance, it is most important to use the right language when describing what is going on. The word lapse has a very specific meaning:

lapse

laps/

noun

1. a temporary failure of concentration, memory, or judgment.

“a lapse of concentration in the second set cost her the match”

synonyms:failure, failing, slip, error, mistake, blunder, fault, omission, hiccup;

informal slip-up

“a lapse of concentration”

None of these words even remotely suggest the willful, systematic, criminal destruction that is going on at the EPA, and everywhere else in our government. One doesn’t lapse into corruption of this type and magnitude. Scott Pruitt went into his job with every intention of achieving every last act he committed as EPA administrator.

People get the wrong impression when words that mean less than the actual facts belie. This is no time for timid language, or the imparting of wrong impressions.

As for this being just the beginning, we need every last one of these criminals to be prosecuted. In order for that to happen, we need a Democratic congressional leadership that is willing – eager – to prosecute anyone and everyone who has participated in the Trump administration, beginning with Trump himself. We don’t have that. In fact, just last week, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Chuck Schumer spoke against Latino and African American legislators who are actively protesting Trump. They’ve also been vocal about not talking about impeachment. With leadership like that, phrases such as “Pruitt’s resignation is just the beginning” are not rooted in fact or probability. Public figures with your voices and reach would serve voters far more effectively if you put direct pressure on the Democratic leadership to completely change their tack before voters, again, disengage right before an election.

Please, Norm, Noah, issue a correction. What is going on is outrageous and precise language is an absolute necessity, if we have any hope of engaging the public in a strong movement of resistance. Scott Pruitt is not an outlier. He is this administration’s norm, from the White House and all the way to the halls of Congress.


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