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Challenge: Open Discussion

If Family Conversations Sounded Like Congressional Hearings

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I spent the better part of Feb. 27 listening to partisan backstabbing, snide interruptions and accusations of not playing by the rules.

That’s a normal day in my house. I also watched the Michael Cohen hearing.

Thankfully, my kids were in school, although I can’t say for certain if my college-aged daughter was in class during the entire proceedings and, therefore, unable to glance at a television or her phone to absorb the drama unfolding on Capitol Hill. As a senior, her class schedule can best be described as “attendance is encouraged.”

I do know that, despite Rep. Elijah Cummings’ best intentions to allow everyone equal time and ensure questions were followed by answers and then more questions, the Maryland congressman was frequently overmatched. When a fellow congressman, in this case Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZ, takes the time to print an oversized picture of Cohen under the phrase, “Liar, liar pants on fire,” you know nothing much is going to get accomplished.

Which is why I can only hope future Schwem family discussions and squabbles won’t be presented in this manner, for I have no interest in playing Cummings’ role at the dinner table. We will soon discuss, as a family, where to embark on our annual post-Christmas getaway. I am already envisioning how the debate might play out if we use the same language and tactics demonstrated by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Of course, I would begin the proceedings.

“This meeting of the Family Vacation Committee will come to order. Chairman Dad presiding. Ranking Member Mom and I will hear the testimony of Individuals No. 1 and No. 2 concerning possible vacation destinations. We are here to seek the truth.”

“Point of order, Mr. Chairman.”

“Yes honey? I mean, Ranking Member Mom?”

“I move we postpone this hearing until after The Bachelor finale, as we were not given the proper 24 hours’ notice that it would be occurring. Plus, the entire committee is aware ‘The Bachelor’ airs on Monday nights.”

“Move to table the proposal to postpone. The Bachelor sucks.”

“Move to strike from the record.”

“Ranking Member Mom, can we just get on with this, please? We need to hear from our witnesses. Our first witness is Individual No. 1, also known as our eldest daughter. Do you have an opening statement?”

“Thank you, Chairman Dad. Wait, do I have to call you that? It sounds so weird.”

“Please continue with your opening statement.”

“Thank you. I would like to go to Jamaica this Christmas.”


“That’s it? Did you bring any supporting material for the committee to view? Your bank account statements, perhaps?”

“Uh, no. Don’t you guys usually pay for the trip?”

“Ranking Member Mom, do you have questions for this witness?”

“I do. I find it interesting, Mr. Chairman, that this witness is choosing an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica now that she is of legal drinking age. Isn’t that your intent, Individual No. 1? You finally want a shot at ‘The Dance,’ don’t you?”

“No, Mom, I don’t want to go there just to drink. I hear they have great beaches. And margaritas. Wait, Chairman Dad, can I strike that from the record?”

“You may not. Ranking Member Mom, please continue.”

“I yield the rest of my time to the chair.”

“You’re yielding to me? That’s a first. OK, we will now hear from Individual No. 2”

“Thank you. Let me introduce myself. I am your younger daughter, and we’ve never been on a cruise before. That’s what I want to do.”

“You are aware, Individual No. 2, that our sleeping accommodations will be a 9-by-9 room. For the four of us?”

“Can we get two cabins?”

“Mr. Chairman, can I reclaim my time and discuss the money situation again?”

“I’m sorry, Mom. OK, one cabin sounds fun.”

“Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

“This meeting is adjourned.”

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