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“Congress’ Pity Party”: Drama Queens Who Choose Not To Solve The Nation’s Problems

This week’s congressional dysfunctional is brought to you by the letter “P.” Forget Democrats and Republicans: The party of the moment is pity.

Yes, yes, Congress is polarized, Republicans aren’t a governing party anymore, Democrats lack spines, everyone is beholden to corporate interests, and the open source world is changing how politicians interact with their constituents.

None of that has anything to do with the theatrics over the filibuster.

Every so often, Congress, frustrated and angry that the public bears them so much ill-will, decides to remind us that their inability to get stuff done is our fault.

We’re the ones who elected them. We’re the ones who keep voting for them. We’re the ones who demand that they sacrifice principles for expediency. Allegedly. But we don’t really pay attention to Congress, because they don’t do much, and when they do, it’s often comical.

So they get angry. They create a crisis. They give long, florid floor speeches about the crisis. They appear on television and bemoan. And bemoan and bemoan and bemoan what happened to this great institution, (if in the Senate: This saucer, this leavening chamber), this beacon of democratic representation in the world.

Right now, we’re in the pity stage. You know it because the political tabloids are publishing stories about how relationships between parties are at their lowest point since the last time these tabloids wrote the stories. Or that the majority leader and the minority leader can’t take each other’s phone calls.

Pity clears the room. Pity is such a turn-off because it absolves the bearer of any responsibility to solve his or her own problem.

Truth be told, the Senate can solve its problems. Its members just choose not to. But instead of admitting that manufactured crises are the catalyst for getting anything done, we are instead treated to spectacles that Congress can watch on TV and feel important again.

They negotiate publicly and privately, then create a solution.

Often, the solution sets up further crises, which will allow Congress to once again come back and get everyone’s attention, as they go through the performance and sweep in at the last moment and provide another solution, proving once and for all that Congress actually does work. Then they congratulate themselves on a job well done. Take that, American people.

 

By: Marc Ambinder, The Week, July 16, 2013

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Unraveling”: Republican Drooling, Stupid, Transparent, Self Conscious Lying

One of the habits of political spinmeisters that I dislike the most is the tendency to claim that close contests are invariably about to break wide open into a complete debacle, a historic humiliation, a defeat of biblical proportions for their opponent. I don’t know what this sort of stupid, transparent, self-conscious lying is supposed to accomplish. Intimidation? Exciting “the base?” Discouraging the other “team’s” “base?” Working the refs? Beats me.

In any event, we’re getting a lot of this right now from the Romney campaign and its supporters. Here’s an item from The Hill:

A top Romney spokeswoman said the Obama campaign’s allegations that he misled the public over his tenure at Bain Capital are “reckless and wild,” and a sign that the president’s campaign is “unraveling.”

And here’s a post from Michael Walsh at The Corner:

The Obama campaign’s desperate “felony” charge against Mitt Romney ought to serve as a wake-up call for the Romney campaign and for the American public regarding the utter amorality of the president and his functionaries.

Neither of these excited people is offering any rationale for why the Obama campaign should be feeling “reckless and wild” or “desperate,” or should be “unraveling.” Well, actually, the Romney staffer in the Hill story, Gail Gitcho, offered this drooling bit of spin that wouldn’t fool a first grader:

[T]his attack from yesterday has frankly just jumped the shark and it shows that the Obama campaign, they are scared to death of having to run on their own record because they haven’t been able to create jobs and they have no plans in the future to be able to fix the economy, and that’s what the American people care about.”

That, BTW, is an excellent example of another spinmestier habit I absolutely hate, which is making generalizations about what “the American people” think or want.

But anyway, why would anyone actually think the Obama campaign is in extremis right now? Every time I turn around there’s another article about the incredible stability of the polls of this contest, and their utter imperviousness to the events of the campaign. The electorate is so polarized that Obama couldn’t drop to more than a few points behind Romney even if he suddenly came out and said his favorite writer was Frantz Fanon. The actual outcome is likely going to depend on GOTV efforts that aren’t even underway yet. So what, pray tell, is the point of the constant claims that Obama’s panicking or is going to lose as badly as Mondale or has been “rejected by the American people?” Will this change a single vote? I can’t imagine why.

What “the American people” really need are spinmeisters who are a little less shameless.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, July 13, 2012

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tea Party: The Welfare State Is Out Of Control But Leave “My” Medicare Alone

About a month ago, Politico ran a much-discussed piece, insisting that the Republican Party and its base have become “fanatically anti-spending.” Tea Partiers, the article added, are obsessed with “cut, cut, cut,” and “taking a cleaver to government spending.”

I’ve pushed back against this, but a new Marist poll out today makes this much easier. The poll asked respondents:

“Do you support or oppose doing each of the following to deal with the federal budget deficit: cut Medicare and Medicaid?”

Among all registered voters, 80% opposed these cuts. Among self-identified Tea Party supporters, 70% opposed these cuts. Among self-identified Republicans, 73% opposed these cuts.

We’re talking about taxpayer-financed, socialized medicine, which Tea Partiers should oppose reflexively if they’re desperate to “cut, cut, cut.”

Except, they’re not.

When pressed on the radical nature of their agenda, congressional Republicans consistently claim the “American people” are on their side, even suggesting they have a popular mandate to pursue drastic policy measures that voters didn’t know about last year. But the data is hard to ignore — not only does the American mainstream oppose GOP cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, but even the Republicans’ own base isn’t on board.

I often think of this piece from Matt Taibbi, who attended a Tea Party rally last summer.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”

“Yeah,” he says, “but I don’t make very much.”

 The point is that congressional Republicans are desperate to make devastating cuts, and think they’re on safe political ground. GOP officials might be surprised to learn just how many Americans rely on government spending, and want to keep the benefits that apply to them.

By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Deficits, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicaid, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, Tea Party, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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