Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Real Problem Revealed by Hoffman's Tweet

The verdict is in. The Minnesota Senate Ethics Committee  decided that Sen. Hoffman (R-Vergas) needs to apologize for  a blatantly false tweet about statements made by Sen. Goodwin (D-Columbia Heights).

In case you missed it, the complaint originated during Senate floor debate on May 18 regarding potential cuts to health and human services. Sen. Goodwin was talking about the history of the treatment of people with mental illness and how far we've come since then.

In response to this speech, Sen. Hoffman took to the Twittersphere:

Goodwin was obviously upset, and an ethics complaint was later filed. Hoffman stuck to her guns claiming that she was very sensitive to calling people those names, completely ignoring the fact that Sen Goodwin did not call people those names at all. 

This is politics at its worst. The claim Hoffman made shows her own ignorance at best and blatant deception to appease the GOP base at worst. I'm glad she needs to apologize. She should. But there's a bigger issue that is revealed by this controversy.

What do legislators think is the purpose of floor debate? To Hoffman it seems to be a time to tune out anyone you assume you will disagree with anyway and putz around online. The point of debate is to discuss the aspects of proposed legislation and their impact on constituents so that you can make the best decision for the state of Minnesota. The above tweet reveals that as Goodwin took the floor, Hoffman didn't pay attention long enough to be able to comprehend even a few simple and clear sentences. Worse than that, even if she truly believed that Goodwin had called people such awful names, isn't that why she also, as a state senator, has the opportunity to speak from the Senate floor? Debate between the two should have never ended up online. That was juvenile and unprofessional. Hoffman should have expressed her concern on the Senate floor and given Goodwin the chance to clarify.

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