Murphy says confirmation hearings feel like 'an alternate universe,' channeling most of America


During South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley's confirmation hearing as President-elect Donald Trump's nominee as ambassador to the United Nations, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) channeled the feelings of incredulity shared by many Americans following the hearings: They feel as though they "have occurred in an alternate universe."

As a second week of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's nominees proceeds, many Americans have watched with disbelief and horror as a parade of unqualified, corrupt, and/or destructive candidates have submitted themselves for (limited) questioning, offering answers that are at turns offensive and chilling, but rarely reflective of the radical changes Trump has threatened to make to this nation.

Collectively, the American public are deeply unimpressed with Trump's Cabinet picks, with only 30 percent of respondents in a recent poll offering their approval of the nominees — an even lower number than the dismal 40 percent Trump gets himself.

So Senator Chris Murphy undoubtedly validated what a lot of Americans have been feeling, when he took a moment to observe, during Governor Nikki Haley's confirmation hearing for U.N. ambassador, that the hearings feel as though they "have occurred in an alternate universe."

MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Governor Haley, for being willing to serve; thank you for your history of speaking truth to power. I enjoyed the time we spent together, discussing some of the issues you're going to face. I appreciate you being here before the Committee.

And so I say this respectfully: I sort of feel like the hearings we've had — this hearing and the hearing on Secretary of State nominee Tillerson — have occurred in an alternate universe.

I hear loud and clear what you're saying about needing for the United States to be clear about where we stand, and strong in our values, and I think that Mr. Tillerson used the same phrasing over and over again, and I think we would all agree that those should be goals of U.S. foreign policy.

But President-elect Trump has downplayed Russian attempts to influence our election; he's suggested that NATO is obsolete; he's openly rooted for the breakup of the European Union; he's lavished praise on Vladimir Putin and refused to commit to continuing sanctions; he's criticized one of our most important allies in the world, Chancellor Merkel; he's promised to bring back torture; and he's called for Japan and South Korea to take a look at obtaining nuclear weapons because they probably can't rely on our security guarantee any longer.

And so I hear what you're saying, but can you understand why, right now, the world perceives the Trump administration's foreign policy to be the exact opposite of clear about where we stand and strong in our values? I hear what you're saying, but can you understand why the world perceives the foreign policy to be the exact opposite of what you're articulating it will be?

Murphy keenly highlights an extraordinary disconnect here: While Trump endeavors to upend our democracy, violate our norms, and alter our foreign and domestic policy, his nominees speak about fidelity to our values, as though Trump is not radically subverting those values every day.

Would that it all were happening in an alternate universe. It does indeed feel that way, but it is regrettably all too real.