That, folks, was Sen. John McCain sarcastically deriding a bill intended to help veterans get jobs. It's kind of weird for him to do that. But it isn't surprising anymore. The atmosphere in Washington is frankly abysmal:
Barring a burst of productivity in the lame-duck session in November and December, the 112th Congress is set to enter the Congressional record books as the least productive body in the post-World War II era. It had passed a mere 173 public laws as of last month. That was well below the 906 enacted from January 1947 through December 1948 by the body President Harry S. Truman referred to as the “do-nothing” Congress, and far fewer than many prior Congresses have passed in a single session.And for that reason, when President Obama makes the case that Washington needs to be changed from the outside--I'm appreciating what he's talking about. It's not just watching what's going on right now--it's thinking about what we could be dealing with if we, the voters, don't make some changes down there.
One of the most compelling arguments I've heard on the subject comes from Elizabeth Warren, who makes the case that keeping Sen. Scott Brown may mean getting a climate change denialist like Sen. Inhofe as head of the Environment Committee. See, that would be a real problem. You can't say it wouldn't happen. After all, the GOP put Michele Bachmann on the House Intelligence Committee even though she's a credulous boob--they have a funny sense of humor. Or rather, disdain for whatever constitutes effective, informed, rational government.
I am reminded of this particularly by Woodward's recent book regarding last year's debt ceiling crisis, The Price of Politics. I think Woodward gets a bit wrong (I'm not the only one) regarding what the president could even do to make more happen with the great, dysfunctional mess that a desperately polarized Congress had become. But he at least does remind me clearly of what did happen.
I followed the mess as a blogger, and it just about depressed me to the point that I couldn't figure out how to write about what I was seeing. These people didn't seem to get the importance of what was going on. Woodward does have a quality of putting you in the room with the characters involved in the mess--but maybe his view is too granulated. He sees Tim Geithner giving the kind of hair on fire warning about what the consequences were--but he misses drawing out what Rep. Eric Cantor was saying when he admitted that not all of his membership even believed that this was a big deal.
And they didn't, and the way they didn't was particularly disgraceful. As in, ill-informed and in some cases--outright laughable. Bachmann, King, Gohmert, and Broun. the chief fuckwits on Debt Ceiling Know-Nothing Mountain--threatened the credit rating of the US for reasons I shudder to entertain. Were they grandstanding? Or are they, in fact, actually incompetent at understanding what exactly raising the debt ceiling genuinely meant? With a well-informed populace, these antics of theirs would ensure that their stay in congress would be quite done this election. And yet?
Who knows? Just because people hung their bare faces out and implied that they would permit the collapse of the US economy doesn't mean that they have adequately demonstrated their unfitness to the people who elected them in the first place. Louie Gohmert, for example, gives regular reason for one to suppose that his constituents have simply sent him to Washington so that they could watch his antics from a safe distance without fear that he was loose in their streets the whole year.
Let's turn from the incompetents to the devious--look at what House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa means to do with his continued stay--prosecute Atty. General Eric Holder for just not giving him anything nearly impeachable enough. Would it occur to him his time could be better spent?
Only if a bigger, better Obama Administration conspiracy theory presented itself, I'm afraid.
Let's consider what it means if Rep. Ryan, Romney running mate and deficit supergenius, continues to press his supply side goofballery (since polls put his actual vice presidency chances as remote). Let's consider what it means if the Tea Party caucus persists. What does it mean if Senate wankers like McConnell and McCain can simply block any constructive good that could be done? What does it mean if people who think government is the problem, continue running the government?
I don't think I really want to find out. It isn't Obama's job to get the useless and unstable, dissembling and deluded, conniving and contemptuous out of office--it's ours. We have our votes and our voices.
Most of us are outside of Washington--but we have a lever than can move Know-Nothing Mountain, even level it.
Yes, we can.