December 12, 2007
To Hell with Truthiness; Try Some BallsinessP.M. Carpenter
The Founders intended the U.S. Senate to move slowly, to act deliberately, to be distanced from the frenzied passions of the masses, whose emotional release would come from the lower House and then be softened by the smaller, upper body of quiet contemplation.
That was the plan. After all, they operated in the Age of Reason; they envisioned sure, steady progress and the thoughtful march of history. And for a couple hundred years, the plan worked reasonably well (with one rather major exception in the mid-19th century).
But the Founders failed to anticipate and therefore Constitutionally guard against the development of rabidly entrenched political parties, and they certainly never foresaw the likes of today's GOP, which has twisted the senatorial concepts of contemplation and minority rights out of all recognizable form.
If it's true, and it is, that Senate Democrats have behaved a bit devilishly lately -- and I won't take time to review that sordid history -- one must nevertheless have a little sympathy for the devils. Look at what they're up against: a GOP minority that still thinks it's the majority, a GOP stubbornness not seen since the Gingrich days, and a GOP that is grotesquely focused on pure politics over any consideration of actual public policy. In short, the Senate under GOP minority rule is the antithesis of all the Founders envisioned -- that of a dispassionate, institutional buffer for the common good.
P.M., let's not forget that the Dems don't have a majority really. We cannot count Lieberman as a Democrat. I'm not all that sure about the blue-dogs, either. Either way, the senate has become a nightmare to the founders, were they still able to dream. As a matter of fact, the entire system has become a nightmare for all of us, still able to dream and it all boils down to this: The lie of duality, the two party system, so entrenched it may well take another revolution to really take our country, money's hold on the political system as well as the electoral one.
The New York Times this morning has an excellent overview of today's senatorial rathole, summarizing that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "and his fellow Republicans are playing such tight defense, blocking nearly every bill proposed by the slim Democratic majority that they are increasingly able to dictate what they want, much to the dismay of the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, and frustrated Democrats in the House."
Not to mention some independents, like us, who are beyond frustrated.
In fact, GOP obstructionism has morphed so far from the exotic to s.o.p., it occasionally enters the realm of the conspicuously comical; for example, "The Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later." Nasty habits die hard.
In that characteristic doublespeak that only modern GOPers do so well, Mr. McConnell portrayed his party's slithering yahooism as "a positive message of our vision of America." In other words, when you're entrenched behind the eight ball, make your defensive crouch look like a plus -- like you're America's last, and best, salvation, and never mind that what you're defending against is what voters voted for in the last election.
And you know what? There's a reasonably good chance Mr. McConnell and his party will get away with it in the next election. Why? Because, simply, they know how to sell a message, no matter how mind-bendingly farcical that message may be. How? Simply by hammering away at it over, and over ... and over ... and maintaining the unbroken employment of that chorus of singing angels and that brood of prehensile flag-wavers in the background.
Yet after 30 years of this instructive and wildly successful right-wing swill, the Democrats still haven't gotten the hang of it. They merely cower in the face of it, instead.
Well, gee, folks, those miserable GOPers are upsetting our plans, they say. And that bad old Republican POTUS would just veto whatever we did manage to send up, they say. Boo-hoo and sorryass us, they say.
But you know -- don't you? -- how Republicans would handle such a sticky situation were both the situational roles reversed.
They'd say, terrific! Let the Democrats filibuster, but force each and every filibuster onto the floor. Let us have cloture vote after cloture vote. Let us, to break the monotony, send bill after bill to the Democratic president for his veto. And then let's do it all over again, step by bloody step. Let the Word go forth across this great and vast land that we could be great again, if only it weren't for those uncompromising Dems.
Now bring up the angels and the flag-waving clowns.
It's an exquisitely simple technique. To be effective, however, it does call for one other essential element: balls -- huge, swinging and unapologetic ones.
Need I say more?
Heavens No! You went one sentence too far, P.M.
The last thing we need in this country, or in the world for that matter, is more testosterone. What we need is a special kind of courage; the kind that allows people to stand tough for their principles. That kind of courage comes from the heart (I'm not talking about emotionality), not from any organs below it. The kind of courage that will not be ignored. Then, it takes a strong, educated, knowing mind to execute the task the courageous heart brings forth in any situation.
As a life-long independent, what I can't figure out is whether the Dems simply lack courage or really have no objections to where the Bush Goopers have taken this country. Of course, there is always the fear of what Bush and Cheney have on any one of them, since they have, most probably, been spied on since before 9/11. This bunch makes J. Edgar look saintly in comparison.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.