Florida Representative Matt Gaetz is having a tough day on Twitter, with one clip featuring on the congressman’s error in judgement quickly hitting 2 million views. In an exchange with Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl during congressional hearings on China, Gaetz read from The Global Times and asked Kahl if the assertions he cited there were true.Matt Gaetz, photo: Ike Hayman, U.S. House Office of Photography/House Creative Services / Public domain
Gaetz began by saying he wanted to “enter into the record The Global Times investigative report…”
“Is this the – I’m sorry, is this the Global Times from China?” Kahl asked.
“No, this is –” said Gaetz.
“That’s what you read,” Kahl said.
Gaetz then looked down at his paperwork and changed his answer. “Might be, yeah” he said.
Kahl’s stinging rebuke: “As a general matter I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value.”
“Just tell me if the allegations are true,” Gaetz said, ignoring the new reality that he was reading from China’s position.
“I don’t have evidence one way or the other,” Kahl replied, before repeating: “As a general matter I don’t take Beijing’s propaganda at face value.”
Kahl looked at Gaetz with surprise and addressed him with patience as he repeated his “general matter” point. But Kahl never sought to embarrass the congressman or drive home the mistake with any kind of gotcha moment, as the public watching Congress has become used to.
Kahl was testifying as an expert, and experts are accustomed to speaking to people who know less than they do about particular subject matter. That’s the point of asking an expert in the first place.
Background: Colin Hackett Kahl is an American political adviser and academic serving as the under secretary of defense for policy in the Biden administration. His Defense Department biography reports that he “served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President from October 2014 to January 2017 where he advised President Obama and Vice President Biden on all matters related to U.S. foreign policy and national security affairs, and represented the Office of the Vice President as a standing member of the National Security Council Deputies’ Committee. “