It's been a busy week for Trump Administration Watch, and an even busier one for viral political-content farmers, who've been up to their Twitter-fingers in fiery clips from the four Democratic Senators staking their claim to being the party's highest profile legislators in this post-Obama era -- and staking their claim to shortlists for the 2020 election, while they're at it. Please welcome Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, and Tim Kaine. (No Corey Booker isn't here, but he already had his 2020-tipping grandstand moment during last week's hearings for Jeff Sessions.)
These Senators have unleashed their highly re-Tweetable fury at Senate confirmation hearings for Trump's cabinet appointees, most notably Secretary of Education appointee Betsy DeVos, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt.
Cabinet confirmation hearings are always a testy time on Capitol Hill, where opposing-party Senators badger Presidential appointees out of a sense of ideological vetting, yes, but also increasingly to craft solid video-bits ripe for immediate Facebook sharing and future campaign ads.
Senators Warren, Sanders, Franken, and Kaine collectively used these hearings not just to further frame their agenda as liberals -- in favor of free health care and college; climate science; income equality; campaign finance limitations; and the like -- but also to have these cabinet appointees act as surrogates for some of Trump's more controversial views.
The hearings themselves were a lot to watch, so in case you missed them, here are some of the moments that got the internet most excited.
Here’s Bernie asking Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos (a multi-billionaire heiress of the DuPont fortune with a long record of favoring private and charter schools over the standard K-12 public schooling system) if she’s only getting the job because she’s a billionaire who has contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party:
Here’s Minnesota Senator Al Franken asking DeVos about the distinction between "proficiency and growth":
Sen. Al Franken discovers Trump Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos doesn't know the difference between proficiency and growth. pic.twitter.com/QFQchwHhuc— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 18, 2017
Tim Kaine (remember him!) made his moment with DeVos, too, about federal funding and educational standards:
Here's Bernie getting Secretary of EPA nominee Scott Pruitt, previously on record as a climate-change skeptic, to state that climate change is not a hoax, which is somewhat out of step with President-elect Trump.
And here's Elizabeth Warren taking HHS nominee Tom Price to task over his plans for Medicare and Medicaid:
What's that sound? Oh, it's just 2020, getting closer by the second.
The Trump administration has not taken kindly to these tacks and theatrics. Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called them "delay tactics" which "calls into question [Democrats'] desire to have a government of continuity." He went on: "It’s not about substance, it’s not about policy, it’s not about the issues in front of that department. It’s about … partisan attacks and ethical questions."
In fairness, it's also about grizzly bears: