Ken Cuccinelli could probably use a drink. Of course, stopping by a popular Washington, DC watering hole is what got him into trouble in the first place.
Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was spotted at the Dubliner by Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who decided to speak his mind about the Trump Administration's immigration policy.
Writing on Twitter, bar patron Siobhan Arnold said she had just finished speaking with O'Malley when Cuccinelli entered the bar. O'Malley then began calling out the Republican official for Trump's immigration policy, particularly the continued policy of keeping undocumented children in detention centers.
Arnold described the scene in a now-viral tweet:
Martin O'Malley just drove Ken Cuccinelli out of the Dubliner in DC w/ a passion-laced and shame-invoking tirade on behalf of immigrant refugee children!!!
Rather than meeting O'Malley's liquid courage face-to-face, Arnold told the Washington Post that the exchange ended quickly, with Cuccinelli in "retreat" after the verbal barrage from his Democratic counterpart. "O'Malley was shouting," Arnold told the Post. "I don't think Cuccinelli was responding. I think he's like, 'Time to go. Just got here and I'm leaving.' He pretty much retreated."
"We all let him know how we felt about him putting refugee immigrant kids in cages — certainly not what we were taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga," O'Malley told the Post in a text message response, calling Cuccinelli "the son of immigrant grandparents who cages children for a fascist president."
And it's not like Cuccinelli is an innocent bystander in the Trump Administration's crackdown on immigration. He has been a so-called immigration hardliner going back to his own unsuccessful run for Virginia governor in 2013.
For his part, Cuccinelli denies leaving the bar in "retreat," telling Fox News: "First of all, I did not leave the pub -- I went and got my beer, I stayed right there," adding that he felt O'Malley was "out of control," and claimed a friend had to separate the two before O'Malley could escalate the confrontation into a physical fight. "He had some other comments that got right in my face, like literally inches from my nose, bumping up on me and invited me to take a swing at him," Cuccinelli, added.
Cuccinelli continued, "and that point, I literally said to Martin, one of us is going to have to rise above this and it's obviously not going to be you."
Nonetheless, the exchange brings up an interesting and reoccurring debate in our modern political landscape: Should Trump administration officials be "shamed" in public by their political critics, or are they entitled to their privacy while wining, dining or just being citizens out in public? To run for office or serve in a political administration by default seems to make someone a public official and Cuccinelli has run for elected office just a few miles outside of Washington, DC. In the past, this wouldn't even be a discussion except in the rarest of circumstances. Typically, politicians are left alone in public, other than attention-seeking positive interactions with the public or in the occasional "gotcha" moment like the one that happened with O'Malley.
Except in the Trump Era, these kinds of events have become almost commonplace, with former, high-ranking officials like ex-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being denied service in a local restaurant. Supporters of such actions say the public has a right to let Trump Administration officials know that their policies are not supported by the people in the areas where these interactions take place. Of course, such interactions open up Democrats to the same kind of treatment should they venture into more conservative areas during their private lives.
Regardless, it's hard to have too much sympathy for someone who has so vigorously supported immigration policies that have literally resulted in children being put into cages. We can all have a fair debate about immigration and hopefully someday soon it will be on a more civil playing field. But for now, this is the new political discourse in America.
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