Congress is sick. In fact it may be the most ailing of all American institutions. If it were a corporation, it would have gone out of business by now and its officers would all be in jail for a variety of infractions — hubris, lack of ethics, taking money under false pretenses, outright fraud, or even worse, utter incompetence.
Actually, those allegations would apply to most of its membership not just its so called leadership, which mainly doesn’t exist. Statesmanship is an untranslatable foreign word to these guys.
Even when the electorate decides split political control of this dreary branch of our constitutional government doesn’t work well and turns it over to one party all that occurs is further proof of how desperately deep the infection of dysfunction goes. The two Republican masterminds — one in the House and the other in the Senate — can’t get their act together despite their supposed fraternal allegiance.
So they manage to produce a legislative spectacle with the aid of the Democrats that merely heightens the fear of a national citizenry already on edge about its safety by threatening to defund its domestic security apparatus if the president doesn’t back off his efforts to solve the immigration problem they have ignored for decades. That sure makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? When someone says maybe we shouldn’t do that, a major compromise is achieved. They pass an 11th hour reprieve … for a week. That way they can keep the public grinding its collective teeth for a few days while they treat us to another round of uncertainty.
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All this merely certifies what their opponents have been contending in the first place. The GOP with its sniveling House Speaker and its mild-mannered Senate majority leader is incapable of governing. When this is added to the two chief Democratic leaders who already have displayed similar characteristics, the result can only be described as pathetic.
Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who seems to have decided the warnings about the danger of cigarettes is, like global warming, so much liberal hype, has at times shown the courage of a field mouse. He has rolled over so many times for a vocal hard right minority in his caucus, it would be a fair question to ask just how badly he wants to keep the job but that already has been asked and answered.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky acts now and then like an ameliorating factor in the intra-party warfare with Boehner’s bozos, but goes only so far toward a goal of showing that his party is up to this exercise in governance. He too must answer to the retro forces promoting an image of intractability. They just keep advocating backward mobility or reverse clock winding if you prefer.
But how can one lead a Senate half filled by prospective nominees for the 2016 honor of carrying the party’s presidential banner? Their interests aren’t always what’s best at the moment or even the long run for the furtherance of coherent policies. Take the invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his appearance before the Congress issued by Boehner without consulting Barack Obama. Is it in the national interest to bring in a foreign leader, even an ally, to challenge the president of the United States? Is that an insult, a divisive gesture steeped in politics, an interference in a foreign election not to mention presidential prerogatives way beyond advice and consent?
Are Boehner and company truly Americans who love their country, a question propounded by some GOP stalwarts about Obama, or do they love it only when one of them is in charge?
If you believe that the Department of Homeland Security will not be funded in the long run, you have not lived long enough to understand the crisis mentality of those in the legislative branch. Last minute pulling away from the brink is normally just part of the Kabuki theater these guys go through. We hope that is the case this time. If not the real danger in an age of terrorism can be substantial.
The great Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers once said with keen perceptiveness that Congress in session is like “when the baby gets hold of the hammer.” The chaos can be devastating.
Email Mr. Thomasson at firstname.lastname@example.org.