Most Awkward Committee Hearing, Evah

At a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) was questioning a panel of experts on the tax code’s fairness. To kick off his questions, Mr. Roberts jokingly said he was conferring an “honorary doctorate of economics” on each of the four witnesses.

One of the witnesses, Aviva Aron-Dine, actually is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at MIT. Making nice with the senator, she said she appreciated the conferral of a degree, because she wouldn’t mind getting hers a couple of years early.

“I always heard a Ph.D. was a pretty hot Democrat,” Mr. Roberts replied.

“Pretty… sorry?” Ms. Aron-Dine responded.

“Somebody asked me what a pretty hot Republican was, and they said, `Nothing,’” Mr. Roberts continued. “So, you know, it’s an equal deal.” Then he went on with his questioning.

Not to worry, according to his office.

“He means hot as in partisan or `fired up,’” a spokeswoman explained later. “I have heard him use that line before.”
Is that a J-curve in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Heh.

Of course the back-and-forth was innocuous -- Roberts didn't mean anything by it -- but I can't imaging what must have been going through Ms. Aron-Dine's mind at the time. Yikes.