What Who Learned

10.18.13 podcast

What Who Learned

Fine. We’re breathing again. For how long is anyone’s guess.
The government has been re-opened. There will be no international catastrophe about our debt ceiling default. (But I advise all those interested to keep an eye on CBS-TV Evening News and on PBS for peeks at what other nationalities read as the American expertise in economics and good government.)
We’re not placing blame. Actually, we think we will.
Here is a necessarily truncated list of men and women who should have learned something in these past three months:
President Obama, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, former senator Jim Demint. And Mario Rubio, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz.
To the old P.T.Barnum line about a sucker being born every minute, we can only say Amen.
The Tea Party seems to be made up of only suckers, men and women who believe what they want regardless of what reality tells them. How else to explain (short of the usual lemming analogy) the millions of voters who believed enough in the tales spun by Ted Cruz to create a vocal army for just going ahead and burning down Washington? How else to explain Ted Cruz himself who announced that, in effect, there was a Holy Grail and that he alone knew how to get to it? This, from a man on the job for a scant seven months before kidnapping the Congressional spotlights. He had no legislative experience, no paper trail of trying to do something beneficial for the country, no service record of any kind. This is a man who would be king, IS king in his own mind, demanding that his troops hold the line or die as he stands above the fray on his parapet watching.
Worse, as far as we can see, we are fated to go through this same obstacle course again and again. Tea Partiers are cheering Cruz for bravery – what? – and telling other members of that offshoot party how proud they are of them for finally calling out the US government.
As one member of this erstwhile demolition team said yesterday, “I look forward to the next round.”
We do not.
But how do you get the voters of this offshoot movement to realize that they are being manipulated by big business, political PACS, and people whose ambitions lie only in destroying the government upon which most of us depend?
We can’t blame only Ted Cruz for chaos and dishonesty. There is a whole passel of Congressmen and women who were afraid to say to him, You’re not wearing any clothes. The House leadership – Boehner/ Cantor and company – kept their mouths shut rather than be harassed by their own right wing, which was being forced into armor by Senator Cruz. Not one of them seemed to have courage enough to diligently try to turn the troops around to reality and common sense.
Among the lessons these past weeks have taught us is that there are precious few “public servants” who actually believe in being public servants. Their emphasis is on keeping their jobs, securing their own finances, hunkering down hoping not to be noticed by more rabid Republicans who want their jobs, their incomes, their influence. If there really is any justice, they will all be “primaried” and then just as quickly, should they survive, be voted out of office.
It’s fairly clear that none of these members has any background in economics, international relations, or policy making
Not to mention science, theology, or medicine. (Look at Louis Gohmert, for example, and tell us where his expertise lies.)
This would include Mr. Cruz. What they have in common with him is simply the wish for notoriety, for destruction, for burning of bridges.
This is what the voters chose to do last time around?
We don’t think so. We believe that there are voters out there who wanted the same things but wanted also to remain sensible, legitimate, honorable people. What we can hope for now is that these same misguided voters will understand how they have been maneuvered and taken advantage of, as they are at election time in any cycle. We cannot number the times when the real interests of the voting public have had the full support of their representatives. Too often, under the guise of egalitarianism or even libertarianism, voters have been seduced into voting against their own interests by big business, big industry, organized politics.
To do away with what some feel are unconscionably large contributions to the government, read “taxes,” is a wonderful-sounding goal. Until one realizes that our tax system, while deeply unfair, is still less heavy to bear than it is in other countries.
If one is not on Medicare or Social Security, to hear that these plans are un-American and unjust hits the spot for millions of ill-informed citizens. (Who keeps them uninformed? Politicians like Mr.Cruz.)
To the deeply and truly religious, who believe all life is sacred and every fetus should be brought to term regardless of what happens to it later, or to the health of its mother, to hear others discuss abortion in terms of child murder is as alarming as hearing that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Of course these voters will want to go to war, and who is it who promises to lead them to triumph? You know the answer.
If Republicans themselves cannot look reality in the eyes, what of the Democrats?
Can anyone say that the White House made every effort during the past year to converse with its opponents, to try to persuade them, to cajole them, to make deals with them? There were deals to be made which, exasperatingly, neither side saw or had the wit to accept. Can we say that the White House made every effort to make friends with people on the Hill, to get to know them and their concerns, not just to bash them? Can we say that our President, who otherwise seems an intelligent and thoughtful man, ever actually understood the battleground before him?
The best, and funniest, explanation of what happened to the United States this year belongs to Jon Stewart who announced one night that the Republicans had voted for the fortieth time to repeal Obamacare, but that the President was still black.
The men and women most deserving of scorn, however, are those who made weak attempts at talking sense and then turned around to vote against the settlement reached between the two houses. This list includes senators and house members alike, 143 member of the House in particular. The major role-players here include both John McCain and Lindsey Graham. One of these two will certainly be challenged from his right. As for others who deserve contempt and displacement, we include recent so-called presidential candidates like Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain. Now add to that list the names of people who would be presidential contenders: Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush.
Guess who gets off scot-free, as it were? Chris Christie.
What we face now are four months where every US citizen walks around with a twenty pound stone on his or her shoulders, waiting. We know more is to follow in the same vein. We know that coercion, extortion, and name-calling will continue. The bill that re-opened our government and gave us the power to continue to pay our bills ALSO contained some extraneous pork, which should be like waving a red flag at a maddened bull. Please note: some hundreds of millions of dollars are earmarked for Kentucky projects, the state from which Mitch McConnell comes. Talk about bribery and waste.
We could, as a nation, get over a lot of this in time. We’ve held ourselves exempt from so many of the world’s economic problems and meltdowns that we have persuaded ourselves we are the only sane government in the West. After these few weeks, we dare not advise, counsel, or otherwise assist our allies in trying to live more frugally, spending more in recovery funds, organizing for lives in the future. They can see as clearly as we can that we can’t follow our own advice, let alone have the brain power to keep ourselves from making idiots of ourselves.
And if the Tea Party members of the House truly believe that what’s happened here is a victory for them, then we are condemned in January and February to replay every second of mean-spirited, personal, destructive behavior, the result of which will be to harm, indeed main, our own citizens, stop our embryonic economic recovery, and make ourselves even more deserving of international scorn.
The sad answer to our first question – who has learned what from all this havoc — seems to be simple. No one.
One additional thought: if Americans can’t remember for the next 12 months who brought them to this miserable situation, we deserve everything we get.


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