Perhaps this is not a found poem as much as it is simply a way to express how I am feeling about what went down in the U.S. Senate this week. I started with the dictionary, turning to the definitions of the shocking — yet, let’s be real, so not so shocking — words spoken by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday. I was looking for seeds of a poem, but his words were enough.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” said McConnell when asked to explain why he rebuked Warren for speaking against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Session’s for attorney general on Tuesday.
Let’s review what happened:
Sen. Warren was silenced, told to take her seat, and banned from any further debate on Session’s nomination for breaking a rarely invoked Senate rule forbidding the “impugning” of a fellow senator.
How did she impugn Sen. Sessions? By reading a 1986 letter written by Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, that expressed concern over Session’s civil rights record.
“The senator is reminded that it is a violation of Rule 19 of the standing rules of the Senate to impugn another senator or senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who was presiding over the Senate at the time.
“I don’t think I quite understand,” Warren said. “I’m simply reading what she [King] wrote about what the nomination of Sessions to be a federal court judge [in 1986] meant and what it would mean in history for her.”
Warren persisted, which drew Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the floor where he reiterated her violation of Senate rules, and then banned her from any further participation in the floor debate over Session’s nomination. Here’s his words again, for good measure.
“She was warned,” said McConnell. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Thousands more followed with the hashtags #ShePersisted and #LetLizSpeak. And Warren did. She finished her reading of King’s letter just outside the doors of the Senate chambers and streamed it live to millions. #ShePersisted