Occupy the Russell Building!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 17 2011 2:47 PM

Occupy the Russell Building!

occupy_the_russell_building_1321559250859
Mike Lee greets Tea Party activists as they enter Hillsdale College's Kirby Center, the new location for the Tea Party Debt Commission's "hearing."

David Weigel

Today, FreedomWorks planned to roll out its long-in-the-making Tea Party Budget with an event at the Russell building, one of the U.S. Senate's office buildings. It was supposed to happen in the same hearing room that FreedomWorks and other groups had once launched the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" pledge. But there was a snag. The press release had called the event a "hearing." Sen. Mike Lee, who had participated in some hearings in Utah, was all set to kick the proceedings off. But he was told that calling the event a "hearing" put it outside the rules. That, plus a (totally unrelated) scare over a suspicious package at Jeff Sessions's office in Russell, meant that people showing up for the event saw a bunch of Capitol police securing the hallway, and taking placards off the tables in the room.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Lee went to work. His staff secured a new location at the Kirby Center, one of Hillsdale College's buildings, a short walk from the Senate offices. He took command of the hearing room -- sorry, just "room" -- and told everyone to follow him. A confused group of activists, some of whom had been bussed in from two or three states away, followed him down a winding staircase, into a hallway that looked like it led to an exit, then into an actual exit. One Indiana activist asked Lee if he thought the clampdown was political.

Advertisement

"I don't have the power of mind reading," he said, "so I'm not in the habit of assuming the motives."

Things smoothed over once the (extremely packed) hearing got underway. Lee retold the history of the failed occupation.

"They can kick us out of the Senate," said Lee, but they can't shut us down!"

FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe pumped his arms as the crowd cheered. "Whatever you do today," said Kibbe, "don't imitate a hearing!"

But there was more bad news. House members wouldn't be making it into the hearing. "The House just moved up votes!" said one moderater. That got a knowing jeer from the crowd -- hey, they knew what was up. And Rand Paul had arrived, so it wasn't all bad.

"You all know how the Tea Party is different from Occupy Wall Street," said Paul. "We had a lot of protests, we carried a lot of signs. When the rally was over, when the protest was over, we picked up our signs. We cleaned up our trash. We took a bath. And on Monday we went back to work.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.