Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cantor's Song

Governing and protesting are markedly different activities.

This from a daily newspaper article dated Sept. 22:

"The same actions to confront the same problems are reaping the same results: voluntary activism, heroic public protest, slogans and posters, militant loyalty and the concentration of hopes in the central figure of a leader who has yet to harness a national crisis into a viable alternative political and social organization through which multiple sectors and interests impacted by poor government can fight for more than sound bites and the next congressional elections."

A summation of the populist uprising fomented by Glenn Beck and FOX News?

No, words from the pen of "La Jornada" columnist, Julio Hernandez Lopez on the state of Mexico 's left-wing opposition.

But it crosses that screwy “virtual” border fence to sum up the Republican status quo pretty easily doesn’t it?

In yesterday's "Washington Post," another columnist, Dana Milbank, wrote a piece that might lead one to believe House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has been delving into some of Lopez's writing.

In "The Health-Care War Gets a Little More Civil," Milbank recounts the staid circumstances of a public meeting convened by Cantor on (what else?) health care.

The meeting was conducted under rather strict rules of conduct, that wouldn't be considered so strict had certain people demonstrated an ability to behave like responsible adults during this summer's nefarious health care town halls.

You can read the piece for yourself, but in summation, Cantor, a snarky, perpetual Young Republican, invited a colleague from the other side of the aisle, and the issue, to join him.

The usual cast of crazies who found the town halls such fertile ground for ranting about the president, the color of his skin and socialistic tendencies, materialized anew.

But Cantor informed them, after some predictable early outbursts, that this was not a town hall, rather a "public square" and that, "We are here today to talk about health care."

That was something of a shocking, if passive, admission that those who disrupted the town halls did everything but talk about health care.

The piece chronicles the disappointment of those who came to rumble over the fact that Cantor was more willing to engage those who came to discuss. They were aghast at the collegial treatment, once a hallmark of The Peoples' House, Cantor afforded his opposite number, Rep. Bobby Scott (D).

"I felt like pulling a Joe Wilson," one defrauded attendee told Milbank.

We know.

You have to wonder what Republican internal polls are telling them about the impact the Tea Party and 9-12 crowd's caterwauling has had on party fortunes.

highwayscribery thought he espied the first shoots of this new Republican tone when Newt Gingrich, the original braying backbencher, decided not to join in bashing the president’s school kids speech.

Let’s revisit the Mexico article and highlight the fragment which reads: "...has yet to harness a national crisis into a viable alternative political and social organization through which multiple sectors and interests impacted by poor government can fight..."

Columnists (and bloggers) can get very wordy, but that swatch of text can be reduced to: “Yelling loud is bringing us no closer to governing.”

And as we said in our opener, whether in Mexico or Richmond, Virginia (Cantor's redoubt), screaming, tearing down, and obstructing is something quite different from governing.

Gingrich, who couldn't match Sara Palin in "exciting the base,” had this epiphany and decided to make a run at being a serious, even-tempered alternative, because people don’t like to see their presidents yelling.

Just ask Howard Dean.

Cantor, as potential national leader, apparently came to the same conclusions Gingrich did. And he might have also noted, with his belated town square on the topic, that for all the media clamor about the August troubles, we're still talking health care.

Worse, for he and his party, it’s going to become a law, with all the ensuing ballyhoo and poll bumps one might expect from that miracle. There is a resolve becoming apparent and it has something to do with the guy in the White House.

The lesson here is this: The party with the votes is the party that makes the laws.

Back when highwayscribery was in the opposition he, and those of his political ilk, made a lot of angry charges about George W. Bush. This left us, or the highway scribe at least, watching the town hall ruckus with a sinking sense of (ir)responsibility.

We still feel, naturally, that our caviling about Bush's questionable legitimacy was er, um, more legitimate, because he filed a lawsuit to stop votes from being counted, which made his claims to victory fairly transparent.

And furthermore, Obama won by a landslide, not by electoral votes delivered in a questionable tally by a state his brother (Jeb Obama) governed.

But we rant when we now recognize the corrosive effects of ranting.

For all our efforts to blow holes in the prior administration’s embarrassing run guiding the ship of state, at the end of the day, the Republicans and Bush always beat us because voters had delivered power unto them.

Yes, journalists fanned rumors of moderate Republicans disagreeing with how the (p)resident and Tom Delay were going about crafting some legislative package or other, but the bottom line is that they eventually got in line and passed the bill.

And so will moderate Democrats, because, once Republicans made clear they wanted health care to be Obama’s Waterloo, there was very little value in striking out independent of the president’s wishes.

And, of course, there are conservatives who play politics because they want to legislate and participate in the majestic process by which our system has unfolded over the past 230-odd years.

They, too, were going to have their say. Not at the top of their lungs, but in the hushed tones of the cloakroom and/or country club.

And like Obama, they wisely waited for the blowhards to run out of gas and the value of their shock tactics to wear thin.

Smart Republicans have faced up to the fact that they lost the election and that cooperating with the other guys is the only path to policy input.

The rants are giving way to something like Cantor’s sweet song.

We congratulate the Republican House Whip and welcome him to the real patriots’ debate.

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