Winning is only half the job

Author: Barrett Rainey

Our Congress has, in its most recent mess, become a national disgrace. No, make that international. Anyone who doesn’t think so should probably quit reading right here. ‘Cause it’s not going to get any happier.

In my mind, there are two reasons for this. First: the 30 or so Tealiban members of the GOP House majority who’ve been totally irresponsible and who’ve been joined by previous members just waiting for reinforcements. Second: all the more or less responsible members – including “leadership” -who’ve been cowed by them and who’ve refused to use the parliamentary and political means at their disposal to shut them up. I fault this second category for poor parenting just as I would a couple who allow a screaming child to go unpunished in a restaurant or theater.

One of my favorite “talking heads” is David Gergen who has more personal government experience under his belt than most members of Congress. Likely a Republican at heart, he’s lent his considerable talents to both parties at the top in several official capacities and is now at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Gergen almost perfectly defined the Teapublicans in the House with these words. “They’ve learned how to win political campaigns but have no knowledge of governing.” Accomplishing half of what it takes to get to Congress but ignorance of how to do the new job and of the responsibility that goes with it once they unpacked their bags.

To his accurate description I would add only this: a seeming dedication to remain in that ignorant state.

Proof of my addition abounds. Item: A Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. It is their holy grail. It fuels all their other deviant political desires. Yet it’s completely unattainable and unrealistic that it could be achieved in anyone’s lifetime. It would never survive a vote in Congress. But if Tinkerbell sprinkled it with pixie dust and somehow all the drugged members went along, it would have to be approved by the legislatures of 38 states. And that much pixie dust there ain’t.

More items: Many of them want the Federal Reserve eliminated and the gold standard brought back. They want to eliminate public voting for U.S. Senators and give the job to the 50 legislatures. They want Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, HUD, EPA and other agencies abolished. They’d double the Pentagon budget with the savings. More than that, they want to abolish or severely curtail Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Well, dismal as all that sounds, there may be some light at the end of the ol’ tunnel. We’re seven months into the tenure of those miscreants. So, they’re now the ones on the inside. They’ll be the incumbents at the next national elections about 15 months from now. Some say they won’t run for re-election – which you and I seriously doubt. But for the ones that do – which will be most if not all -they’ll face one of two scenarios.

The first: they’ll have accomplished all or much of their wacky agenda, hurting millions and millions of people and causing chaos in the operations of national government. The majority of voters of any political persuasion will have been adversely affected economically, socially or politically – but above all personally -and will be voting with a meat axe rather than a pen.

Or second: they’ll have accomplished little or none of their craziness, will have been stymied by an awakened majority of Congress that wants badly to survive, and will have disappointed their fringy “base” who’ve had it with politician’s excuses and they’ll be “cut out of the herd.” Because those folks can’t be satisfied with anything less that total victory. And victory NOW! They, too, have no clue of governing or process.

I don’t mean to be too rosy here. These idiots have already done great harm to the body politic. In the time they have left in the current term, they’ll do more. On a positive note, maybe Speaker Boehner will suddenly develop some steel in his spine and relegate these “back benchers” to the back benches. Maybe he’ll figure out that allowing himself to be pushed to and fro by this bunch is undermining his own career. He can read the polls. And he doesn’t want to see Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s chair and sitting in the suite of offices he now calls “home.” No, Sir.

But it may already be too late for Boehner. All that talk of “jobs, jobs, jobs” has resulted in not one piece of legislation on his watch. Not one! The crazies have dragged his Republican agenda so far off course – and will continue to pull it further right – that creating anything like a governing consensus is not now – and may never be – possible in his remaining term.

If we voters show up at the polls in 15 months as angry as those polls show we are right now, Boehner may be a “dead man walking.” And he may have lots of zombie company.

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