Doesn't anyone care about the country?

I like to say I’ll believe the country is really in bad trouble when the idiots governing us actually pay attention to the problems and don’t just play political games.

By that measure, when President Obama stands up for his State of the Union Speech tomorrow night he should be able to report “all is hunky – dorey!!” Then he could just sit down and grin. Might not be a bad idea if he did, actually.

An aside: The State of the Union Speech is not, in its present form, required by the Constitution, which just charges the president to let Congress know how things are going every once in a while. George Washington gave the first one, but Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice. Being a republican in the true sense of the word, he abhored anything smacking of royalty, and having the chief executive show up in all that pomp and circumstance to read his words of wisdom to the peons rubbed him the wrong way, so he mailed it and let a clerk read it.

Woodrow Wilson brought the speech practice back, and now it has all the formality of kabuki theater, mostly the theater part. The president stands up and gives a speech everyone will ignore, members of congress’ two parties rise and sit as parties at parts they like or don’t like. It’s all comedy, really.

Here’s my fantasy for Wednesday Night: Obama starts talking and the first time the GOPs sit on their hands while the Dem’s clap, he should stop, look around, and say “You know, this is silly. Half of you are going to oppose everything I say tonight. Half of you are going to support it. This support and opposition has nothing to do with what I say. You don’t care what I say, really, you just want to perform for the TV cameras.

You don’t need me here to be a part of this partisan game, which is disgusting the entire nation, making us all look stupid, and getting nothing done.”

He should then hand his speech to the clerk, tell him to read it, and make his exit, quickly and without fanfare.

Isn’t that a great idea? I bet everyone, in the entire nation, would applaud him.

It would speak to public disgust with Congress and politics as they are now. It would challenge Congress to actually govern, not keep performing for the TV cameras and their alleged “political base” wherever that is.

Ain’t gonna happen, I know. Still one can fantacize.

Where was I? Oh yes, the country is not in trouble.

One has to wonder how serious this is. For example, everyone screams about the deficit, how horrible it is that we’re deeply in debt, that we owe China $900 billion or so, and Japan an equal amount, and we can’t go on this way and blah blah blah.

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post has an excellent commentery on how hard our fearless leaders are working to fix this problem here (click).

In brief, they aren’t. The Republicans are screaming that curing the deficit means taxes, the Dems are screaming it will mean cutting programs, and the idea of trimming here, raising some there, is so horrible to all and sundry that, well, so much for that idea.

A proposal to form an independent commission to come up with ways to balance the budget, or at least cut the deficit, was proposed and voted down. Opponents say the budget is Congress’ job, and it is, but it is obvious Congress refuses to do the job.

What I find fascinating, and so does Milbank, is all the statements of how dire things are, how they can’t go on like this, how it’s horrible it’s awful it’s terrible the US credit rating is about to be downgraded and Chinan may call its loans due, and absoutely nobody gives a flying crap.

I mean, nobody. They’re playing games. So, massive deficit must not really be a problem. It must just be one more thing that the parties have picked to argue about. Because, obviously, if it were a real problem, with real consequences, they’d do something, right?

In that same vein, Media Matters has a lovely post going after George Will who can’t seem to let global warming alone even though he’s not an expert. I get emails from Media Matters every once in a while. The latest has this link (click) looking at the latest kerfuffel.

This is what debate has come to in this country: A series of “gotchya” moments — people go over the work of hundreds of scientists with a fine tooth come, find some discrepency, and say it proves that global warming is a hoax. I like the comment from one person down below who says they’re playing gotchya, arguing over how fast the Titanic is sinking, when the larger truth is that global warming is real, is taking place, is impacting us all now, and isn’t going away.

I mean, animal habitats in Utah are changing, measurably, due to climate change. Utah’s climate will be severly impacted because it is on a transition zone, between very hot/dry and less hot/dry. If a few degress change around the equator drives the global climate averages just a degree or two farther north, well, that’s Utah’s hot and dry south moving north.

That’s reality. That’s science.

But, again, idealogical purity drives the arguments, not science.

Speaking of fun and games, the right wing filmmaker who caught some ACORN workers misbehaving has now been caught trying to wiretap the office of a member of the US House of Representatives. Story here.

This is obvious misbehavior of the highest degree — criminal activity. Anyone want to guess how offended the right wing talking heads of Limbaugh, Hannity et al will be?

Not a bit. That’s my bet, and yet criminal activity by political parties seeking political gain against elected representatives of either party ought to offend us all. One of the commenters down below says it all: Climate change scientists have to be right 100 percent of the time or they’re attack, while the critics can be shot down daily and it doesn’t matter, they’re still given credence the next day.

Because it’s not about the planet, or the country, or the welfare of the nation.

It’s about one side being 100 percent right, the other side being 100 percent wrong, and to hell with the facts.


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4 Responses to Doesn't anyone care about the country?

  1. Mark Shenefelt says:

    We need the speech to generate a meaningless catch phrase for the coming campaign season! Remember “Axis of Evil” and “You Lie”?

    Whatever it contains, the speech will be parsed for political gotchya elements, not for anything actually useful or meaningful in it.

    You are right. It’s like all the pols have final-stage rabies.

  2. flatlander100 says:

    While I agree the nasty partisanship has gotten out of hand — meaning it now extends unbroken to the period between elections when members of Congress and the Senate, as a rule, used to cooperate to actually produce laws they thought were generally beneficial — the “gotcha” phrase or moment is hardly new. ‘[NB: Definition: by nasty partisanship, I mean that intended to demonize the opposition, to convince people that they are not merely wrong, but are evil. "Commie!" "Fascist!" "Socialist!" "Murderer!" etc. ] Remember for example. the “missile gap” JFK campaigned against, which in fact didn’t exist [as he knew at the time]. But it was oh so convenient a club with which to bash his opponent.

    The difference is, I think, that the partisan over-the-top bashing used to end for a time when the votes were counted until a few months before the next election. Now it continues unabated. Witness the last election, with a near landslide victory in the presidency and congress and the senate for one party, and the other responding by filibustering damn near everything and shouting “no!” to every proposal — on health care, judicial appointments, the environment, the economy, banking regulation, etc. etc.

    So it’s not the “gotcha” phrase or moment that’s new, it’s the continuation of election mode unbroken during the period between elections, making effective government [even presuming a majority of both parties in Congress wanted to achieve it] impossible.

    A lot of the “endless campaign” can be blamed on the TV and radio political shows — left and right [but more on the right]. Limpaw, Hannity, Beck and Olberman need hot issues nightly to keep the ratings up. They need to keep their partisans at fever pitch constantly, and so we get warnings of “death panels” that will kill grandma if health care passes, and warnings the the Obama administration is preparing internment camps for conservatives, etc. To keep people worked up [and listening or watching], the easiest thing to do is keep them frightened.

    And so the endless campaign rolls on. It’s not good for the Republic and may in the end damage the broadly tolerant middle-of-the-road democracy I grew up with in the fifties beyond saving.

    I am not optimistic.

  3. Doug Gibson says:

    I’m all for a president submitting a SOTU letter and not having a speech. In fact, I might just vote for the candidate who proposed that.

  4. flatlander100 says:

    Easy solution, Doug. Don’t watch. I haven’t watched a SOTU address in a very long time. I read the full text in the NY Times the following morning. I get to see what the President actually said without all the interruptions, the drama queening in the seats [sit and not applaud, sit and applaud, stand and applaud, stand applaud and cheer, etc. with the pundits keeping count of how many times a president was interrupted by applause, who stood, who didn't, etc. Silly. ] And especially I don’t have to watch those gooey introductions of people in the president’s wife’s company in the gallery. [Who was the first president to do that in a SOTU speech --- invite people to his box in the gallery to be introduced from the floor? Whoever he was, he has a lot to answer for. It's gotten downright ridiculous of late, without even considering the endless punditry analysis devoted to who he introduced, who was invited, who was sitting closest to the first lady, etc.....]

    Washington and Jefferson sent theirs over, I think. [TJ was a terrible speaker and hated public speaking. Avoided it whenever he could. ] Since nothing requires the President to give the address in person, as Charlie notes, we should honor the tradition of the founding generation.

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