OPINION: Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn embarrasses us yet again

Jan. 15—Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! How can you be so ridiculous? And so blatantly partisan, racist and stunningly hypocritical?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said Wednesday that she has serious concerns with one of President Joe Biden's federal judicial nominees and referenced his "rap sheet with a laundry list of citations, including multiple failures to appear in court."

Andre Mathis is a 41-year-old Memphis lawyer who, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first Black man and second Black person to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over federal appeals arising from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha went on, head down, laboriously reading from a note in her hands:

"In Tennessee, we expect our judges to respect the law not disregard it. If Mr. Mathis thought he was above the law before, imagine how he'll conduct himself if he's confirmed?"

This was not a speech from the heart — hence the note. This was a clear, premeditated attempt to try to humiliate a Black man nominated by a Democratic president.

As for the "rap sheet" — a term for a person's criminal history that stems from the acronym for Record of Arrests and Prosecutions — there is none.

That "laundry list of citations"? That would be three speeding tickets received more than 10 years ago, from 2008 to 2011. One was for going 5 mph over the speed limit.

Mathis has never been arrested or charged with a crime. Mathis told the committee he forgot the tickets until he got a notice in the mail from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles that his driver's license was temporarily suspended. At that point, he paid his tickets, he said.

Blackburn clearly accomplished part of her mission — humiliation of the nominee that his old speeding tickets were even an issue.

"I highly regret that I'm in this situation," Mathis said. "I feel like I've embarrassed my family. While I deserve this, they don't."

No, sir. You don't deserve this.

As Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, pointed out, "Well, if speeding tickets are a rap sheet, I've got one too. I never got a speeding ticket for driving 5 miles over the limit ... We all, I think, have been guilty of that sin ... "

As a matter of fact, let's talk about Marsha Blackburn.

Despite her concern that Mathis was behaving as if he were above the law, she didn't seem concerned about her own behaviour being above the law just last March.

That was when a car in which she was riding was pulled over by U.S. Capitol Police as senators bolted from the chamber to catch afternoon flights after a week's votes.

According to CNN, one of her aides texted a friend that after being pulled over, the senator "hopped out, flashed her pin, hopped back in the car [and] said 'drive!'"

"Officer didn't say a word, just shook his head," the aide wrote in the text message which was reviewed by CNN.

Neither the aide nor Blackburn's spokesperson responded to CNN's request for comment until after the story aired. Then the spokesperson said in a statement: "While en-route to the airport to fly to Memphis for constituent meetings, Sen. Blackburn's driver was pulled over. The police officer asked the Senator for identification, which she provided, and then proceeded to the airport."

CNN also asked for comment from the Capitol Police. That spokesperson said the department had no records of the incident — and wouldn't explain why not, CNN reported.

There also is the matter of Blackburn's complete duplicity in ignoring the background and allegations surrounding then-president Donald Trump's nomination of then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was credibly accused by a woman of sexual assault (actually more than one woman, though senators heard testimony only from one) when she was a teenager and he was a college student.

Apparently to Marsha Blackburn, speeding tickets are more concerning than sexual assault.

Blackburn has called Kavanaugh "an honorable man," and in September of 2019 she said she was "humbled" when Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh performed her ceremonial swearing in to the Senate.

"Humbled but prepared for a fight. I will not abide the lack of civility, of decency and of rationality we saw during Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation ... I stand to defend the process and for civility. I refuse to leave this political chaos unchecked due process and civil discourse are required for constructive, respectful debate."

It would appear she forgot those words — as though they were just another note to read out loud.

Or more likely, in her mind they only apply to fellow Republicans.