Needing to Learn
That sounds educational…stay in school, etc., but that’s not what we mean.
What we’re talking about today is the amazing inability of politicians to learn anything from what they themselves experience.
Firstly, we want to express our relief and gratitude at the results of this week’s elections. Not everyone we favored succeeded, but enough did so that fear and trembling for a moment or two can be put aside and we can walk around out-of-doors with smiles on our faces. There are so many events and ideas that were negated by the Obama victory that it seems to us America has been returned ALREADY to a better land, one that truly believes in its promises and its progress.
Now about the inability of politicians to learn anything at all.
Our two favorite examples we’ve already drawn to your attention: Mitt Romney and Linda McMahon, the defeated candidate in Connecticut who ran — for no good reason —for the Senate.
Mr. Romney, you will recall, has been on his presidential treasure hunt for six years. For a man without foreign policy experience, for example, to spend NONE of his time traveling and studying and learning is plainly lazy as well as not a little crazy. Apparently he felt prepared to ascend to the nation’s highest office simply on the basis of a soulful look (which, at times, resembled Richard Nixon’s) and the oft-repeated mantra: “I know how to do this. Trust me.”
Voters didn’t believe him, or indeed much of anything he said, slewing as he did from one point of view to another, never documenting his ideas or plans, stone-walling the press and the nation on his tax returns (he obviously felt they weren’t germane to what he was trying to do.) In a word, he presented us with almost no good reason to vote for him but for those whose animus towards the president drove them to embrace him.
But with six years of study, travel, hard work and honest effort, he could have found some.
As for Ms. McMahon, she simply, as folks said, took her candidacy from two years ago out of mothballs, dusted it off, gave it a more homely visage, and said, “Here I am. I have a plan.”
We think anyone in politics who ever announces that they have a plan for anything should be immediately strung up unless they are willing to share that plan with us voters.
In her two years of planning a second race, Ms. McMahon might also have learned something about health care, welfare, income taxes, foreign entanglements (she was running for the Senate, after all), climate change, and a host of other problems the country continues to face. She didn’t. She did tell us repeatedly that she had created 600 jobs and her opponent had created none. And that she was a grandmother.
Not good enough.
In fact, the entire Republican barn of healthy, well-conditioned horses was a joke. Just remember the months we all spent in wonder as we listened to Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, Pawlenty snort and paw the ground, eager and unsaddled. Without Ann Romney’s horse, the stable would have been completely bare.
Many pundits have already weighed in on the results and what they in theory tell us. They would have us understand that the next big move must come from the president: he must learn how to schmooze, how to warm his relationships with Congressional members, that he should name some real veterans in diplomacy to his cabinet and let them loose to woo and win on the Hill.
We disagree. We think the first moves now should come from a chastened Republican House and decreased Senate. It was they, after all, who for four years rebuffed each and every overture made by the White House to begin to do the country’s business. Their oft-stated goal was to keep Mr. Obama a one term president. O.K., that didn’t work.
But the country is still watching Congress with angry eyes. When Mr. Boehner stepped out on Wednesday last, presenting a more reasonable House leadership, proceeding to say that the House would go along with some revenue-raising plans, he also added “on certain conditions.”
Wait a minute! That’s no different from what the House has always said to this president. Sure, they said, we’ll help you, as long as you meet our conditions.
To make the future standoff even more clear, Mitch McConnell weighed in with more of his sanctimonious blather.
Which is to say no Republican in a position of leadership has learned a damned thing!
So to what can we look? Roadblock, standoff, impediments, posturing, gridlock. Which is where we were when this whole thing began.
Another bit of punditry would have us believe that the entire Republican Party must now reshape its tenets and its membership, begin to think about working from the center rather than from the far right, make a real effort to serenade blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, and youth.
Listen! This group of bozos on the Hill can’t even take one day to lay off and begin to imagine life in the future. What this amounts to – until and unless someone on the right comes to his senses – is political suicide.
And right now we’re angry enough to let the GOP become fossilized and redundant. Mr. Obama found that, if he had to, he could work without Republican cooperation of any kind and achieve, if not all his plans, enough to begin to make a difference in how we live in this country.
This isn’t revenge for past treatment in any way. But if the Republicans can’t or won’t grow up, and want to continue to imagine themselves as an important players in American democracy, we’re perfectly content to ignore the whole lot of them, and throw every bit of energy and weight behind the president for the sake of solving our nation’s problems.
That is our goal. That should be the Republicans’, too. If they can’t see past their noses, we’re under no obligation to play guide-dog.