This has been a bad summer for almost everybody — celebrities, shrimpers, Washington insiders, Tea Party outsiders, people who prefer pleasant weather. So far, my list of who did well only includes the Spanish soccer team and Paul the prophetic octopus. Plus, according to Senator Jim Bunning, George Steinbrenner. The Kentucky Republican praised the Yankee owner in the Senate Finance Committee for being “smart enough to die in 2010,” when the estate tax is temporarily suspended.
This week, Congress passed the huge reform of the financial industry that it had been working on for nearly two years. You’d think there would have been cheering from coast to coast, but the left was disheartened to discover that contrary to all previous precedent, Congress had passed a bill that was imperfect.
“Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done,” said Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the only Democrat to vote no.
Great idea. I think I speak for us all when I say that there is absolutely nothing I would like better than additional talking in the Senate. It always seems to make things better. Meanwhile, down in the House, John Boehner, the Republican leader, raised the ante, calling for repeal.
Who says that Boehner just hangs out at bars and tanning parlors and doesn’t work hard? The man is tireless! Everybody else was exhausted, but he wanted to start over.
“There are common sense things we should do to plug the holes in the regulatory system … and to bring more transparency to financial transactions. Because transparency is like sunlight and sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he said.
This is an exciting new analogy for Boehner. Just a couple of weeks ago he was leading the opposition to a bill that would require groups that pay for political attack ads to reveal their true identities. Boehner called it a “back-room deal to shred our Constitution.” In this case, transparency was a dangerous concept that would strip away all protective covering and allow vicious ultraviolet rays to stream through the window and burn away our precious freedoms.
Most Republicans are not joining Boehner in his call to repeal the financial reform bill because they are too busy calling for the repeal of health care reform. “The bill should be scrapped and replaced with much better ideas,” said Mario Rubio, the Republican Senate candidate in Florida.
Rubio’s own idea is to eliminate the requirement that healthy people have insurance, but keep the part that says insurance companies have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. This sounds like the ideal solution — no one would have to buy insurance until they got sick, and then they could make the companies sell them a whole bunch of coverage. I don’t know why nobody thought of this before.
With all these great ideas around — debate more, start over, don’t clean the windows — it’s a wonder that Washington hasn’t become the image of Athens in the age of Pericles. But instead, all Barack Obama’s critics have been able to do is make the country feel gloomy about Barack Obama. He’s passed more major legislation than anybody since Franklin Roosevelt and he’s got popularity ratings that look more like Martin Van Buren’s.
This week, there was an enormous outcry at the news that the president was going to take his wife and children to Maine for the weekend. This is the third time he and his family went away for a weekend since the gulf oil crisis. Three weekends in three months!
“Presidents are certainly entitled to vacation, just like everybody else, but there is a fine line as to when presidents should do it, what they should and where they should do it,” a former member of George W. Bush’s staff told CNN. The staff member in question, Brad Blakeman, was in charge of appointments and scheduling. Surely there is nobody better qualified to discuss this important subject than the man who helped the previous president get out of town for a third of his entire time in office.
The Republicans have now set up a site called “Golf or Gulf” that lists all the things Obama has been doing for the last three months when he could have been sitting around worrying about the oil spill. He had Paul McCartney over to the White House. And he played golf 10 times!
Let’s repeal the oil spill and start all over. The right way to handle the disaster, it appears from the many, many critiques, would have been to:
— Call all the oil company executives together to come up with a plan.
— Denounce all the oil companies.
— Apologize to the oil companies.
— Tell Paul McCartney he cannot sing in the White House until all the pelicans are clean.