Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Special Election Rant
In the wake of the Massachusetts special election debacle, Democrats will predictably veer to the right...and hit a wall.
The conventional wisdom, called that for its endless repetition and complete lack of novelty, is that Democrats overreached after the 2008 elections with too progressive an agenda.
The corrective, and ever has it been thus, should be to act more like Republicans.
The question is whether that's possible.
The loss in the Bay State was not due only to an energized Republican base hopped up on FOX-generated nonsense about "socialism" and a "government takeover" of health care (and every other thing highwayscribery wanted from President Obama and didn’t get).
It could also be attributed to a disillusioned liberal base that wanted a single-payer health care system (and didn't get it), and compromised for a public insurance option to compete with the public sector crooks raking us over the coals all these years.
Instead we got Tim Geithner, a bailout of criminal bankers, the public option’s junking, and a fire sale on what was left of health care reform to the highest bidders representing the lowest common denominator.
Early on special election day, "Salon" and "New York Times" were reporting low turnout in the Latino and African-American communities. It is highly likely they were too busy looking for jobs to engage in another play for redemption at the ballot box.
That was so last year, what with all the hope and change stuff.
Now independents are going for the Republicans. At least with the GOP you know what you get...nothing, which may seem like an improvement after so many shattered, short-lived illusions.
And while we're on the subject of independents, highwayscribery would like to mention how much he loathes them.
Although he has spent his life cutting an independent path, and paying the high price reserved for such behavior, highwayscribery has always managed to VOTE WITH THE PARTY.
He does not sit around with his finger in the air, sensing which way the wind is blowing, and then go out for a good 'ol voters' revolt against all these damn politicians with their fingers in the air trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing.
He knows what he stands for and is aware that, in fits and starts, the Democratic Party is kinder to middle-class, wage-earning, craftspeople of liberal profession such as himself. highwayscribery views voting as a civic responsibility, rather than a shopping quest for people to drink beer with.
highwayscribery did not witness the Massachusetts campaign, but he's pretty sure it would not have mattered a wit that Martha Coakley didn’t know what team Kurt Schilling pitched for, or whether the guy entering the text on a paid announcement spelled Massachusetts wrong.
It's hard to spell.
He would have voted for Martha Coakley, lackluster as she was reported to have been, for her service to the Democratic Party and its principals throughout most of her life. We call these “touchstones” here in the shrinking universe of people guided by a moral compass.
Coakley would have gained highwayscribery’s vote because of her proven allegiance to something other than herself.
Which is really what we're talking about when we go on about the growing class of independents so much in the news this political season. They are the apotheosis of this godawful baby boomer generation that has put self-accommodation ahead of any other consideration while blessing themselves with an appealing adjective in the process.
Joe Lieberman is an independent: a man who stands for nothing. A man who supports an idea and a party one year and throws that party under the bus along with the idea he once so piously espoused.
He is, like most of our voters, an inveterate invertebrate, worthy of our deepest disdain. So here goes:
“highwayscribery disdains you Joe Lieberman, and all the jellyfish who voted for that Brown guy in Massachussecks, or whatever they call it.”
The American people have a right to be miffed, gelatinous though their collective political will may be. They gave the Democrats an almost-filibuster proof (Lieberman!) majority, a hefty margin in Pelosi’s realm, and a cool black guy to lead from the White House.
The Democrats and Obama then took a couple of weeks to bail out the banks and the rest of the year to NOT FINISH HEALTH CARE.
The Republicans, openly, shamelessly nasty, pledged themselves to obstruction and obstruct they have. But not without the help of hacks like Sen. Ben Nelson, Democrat from Nebraska, Sen. Byron Dorgan, Democrat from North Dakota, and...LIEBERMAN!
Rather than move with celerity on the health care issue, senators like Sen. Max Baucus, Dorgan, Nelson, and you-know-who, dilly-dallied while wing-nuts jumped like monkeys for television cameras posted on the Washington Mall.
Progressives have been think-tanking health care to death (no pun intended) lo these many years while waiting for the great majority moment.
We'd have liked an approximately one-page bill saying something like: “Every American will make a contribution adjusted to their income, which the government will then pool according to generally accepted actuarial principles and insure every citizen’s health care.”
Instead we got 2,100 pages too terrifying to welcome with open arms.
There’s been a lot of talk about the decline of newspapers and good reporting, but when it came to covering an 18th century invention -- the U.S. Senate -- our Old Media machinery was up to the snail’s-paced job.
The upshot was great articles, for anyone with 50 cents to read, about how lobbyists from the insurance, drug, and medical establishments were eating away at reform like the greedy guppies they are.
The guys across the aisle were firm in their pledge to filibuster everything that came up and the Democrats let it happen.
In “Make ‘Em Pee, Harry,” highwayscribery suggested the Republicans be forced to actually man the Senate floor for their record-breaking suite of filibusters and then call in the troops if and when they abandoned the fort.
The “pee” reference related to an old yarn about Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C) strapping on a catheter before going to filibuster in defense of Dixie and against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He lost, the nation won, and it is painful to say, but Obama is no Lyndon Baines Johnson.
So highwayscribery thought that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should call the Republicans out and oblige them to stand behind their verbal diarrhea. Make a spectacle of themselves before the American people, rather than allow their tactic to render Democrats passive and inept (which isn’t a difficult task in the first place).
The idea was being bounced around at the time and one of the MSNBC cable shows had the former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott opine. He said it was implausible to require actual filibusters, because “NOTHING WOULD EVER GET DONE.”
Which is somewhat the point of obstruction. So if nothing’s going to get done, let’s have the blame rest squarely on the shoulders of those responsible, and not those hogtied by the undemocratic behavior.
If the scribe sounds a bit like a campy, angry, gay guy, that because he has been reading one by the name of Simon Doonan, who writes for the “New York Observer,” while watching the election results over the edge of the paper.
highwayscribery doesn’t live in New York, but he does inhabit a New York state of mind and truly enjoys how “The Observer” reduces the big city to a small town with solid street reportage and peppy writing.
Anyway, it turns out Doonan was at the heart of a December tempest-in-a-teapot over the way Christmas balls were decorated for placement on the White House tree.
That leggy Desiree Rogers woman enlisted his services in the name of style. Doonan came up with the idea of sending out 800 recycled silver Christmas balls in the White House’s possession for a dressing up by the schoolchildren and poor folk of America.
Somehow, (and god forbid) a Warhol image of Mao was pasted on one, and another of a transvestite named Hedda Lettuce to a second.
A right-wing commentator of the lower orders named Andrew Breitbart engineered a “blogsplosion” (Doonan’s expression) decrying creeping communism and an assault on family values in The People’s House.
But enough paraphrasing. Doonan can do this himself:
“The irony of Tinselgate is fairly breathtaking. A person donates his time and expertise -- for free! -- thereby saving taxpayer money. That same person then uses his ingenuity -- incorporating the creativity of kids and needy folks and reusing tchotchkes from previous administrations, thereby saving even more dosh -- and ends up on the receiving end of a torrent of threats and physical abuse from his fellow Americans.”
What’s happening at the top is often happening at every level of a society, which is why we mention Doonan’s nightmare here: It’s a good parable for the Obama presidency and a cautionary tale about the trash that is out there and the evil motivating those who would prevent someone come to do a little good for those who need it most.
You deserve your senator Mashochistetts. But we don’t.