A Republic, if you can keep it

Now we know that, despite all appearances, Congress can act as one body and do what needs to be done. To be sure, it cannot deal effectively with a deep recession and massive unemployment, it has not found a way to protect people who have or are in danger of losing their homes after a virtually unregulated financial community found as many means imaginable to make money by conning as many people as possible, it stands by and does nothing as over reliance on fossil fuels threatens first our national security and then the planet itself, and remains unwilling to address the complete corruption of our political system resulting from the system by which campaigns are funded.

But at least they have protected us from having a member of Congress who tweets photographs of parts of his body that cause schoolchildren to giggle.

This whole two weeks of junior high school hijinks taking over what passes for political thought were not about anything important, but what it says about the republican form of government the nation’s founders established is both extremely important and deeply saddening. When the only politician to state the obvious is Charles Rangel, among the most shameful (and shameless, if both of those are possible) among members of Congress who are overwhelmingly the wrong people to whom to entrust the legislative functions of our government, the unlikelihood that these people can even make a dent in the problems facing us becomes quite clear.

Cenk Uygur spoke for many in pointing out the political folly of what the Speaker-in-exile and her followers did

but, frankly, the episode raises more issues than simply how Democrats scare easily.

Anthony Weiner must go because he is a jackass, but Senator Joseph Lieberman is allowed to remain a committee chair in a Senate controlled by Democrats even after running up and down the country telling everyone to vote against the party’s nominee for president whose election, he said, would be dangerous for the country.

No wonder then, that when said nominee becomes president, facing an immediate crisis as the nation’s economy is collapsing, other faux Democrats, most notably Ben Nelson, make it impossible to enact sweeping government spending programs to help to pull us out and get people back to work. The immediate result was not only predictable, it was predicted. In fact, without magical powers Paul Krugman could tell us even before the President was sworn in that he could

see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we’re talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says “See, government spending doesn’t work.”

Let’s hope I’ve got this wrong.

Some guy blogging away at the same time (though not in his underwear the way such bloggers are often described) put it this way:

It is not the time for the well meaning Republicanism of the last two “Democratic” presidents, or for the loud noises followed by routine capitulation which the Senate Majority Leader favors, nor is the incoming http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifadministration’s hope for consensus and 80 vote approval by the Senate of their proposed solutions as important as the need to restore government to its role to protect its citizens from the ravages of a greedy unfettered marketplace.

or, even before the election itself:

Unless he has a nearly FDR-like first 100 days, and he just won’t since, as with most politicians of the day—-your heroes the Clinton family very [much] included, [Mr. Obama] is way too cautious to do what he would have to do to be a transformational force, we will be back to the nightmare by this time two years from now.

There are better ways to approach these things, as Joe Nocera reminded us this morning. But Senators Glass and Steagall did not have to worry about Senator Nelson or Senator Lieberman. And so, “compromise” is better than nothing, but not much better.

Where did all that get us? Instead of an historic 100 days, we get a watered down health care bill—the best that could be achieved but hardly what we might have expected—and now blame for the continuing economic crisis. And, people we know who lost their jobs two years ago, still unemployed.

We don’t give up hope, we can’t, but even when the paths are clear we seem unable to find our way. Still, the last time we were allowed to talk about the present and the “Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins” we also had to put up with Nixon. This week was the first in one guy’s relatively long life that we could say those words and not have to worry about that, too. This is progress.

David Brooks trotted out another one of insipid pox on all sides things yet again the other day, even before trying to compare the virtual overthrow of the government we like to call “Watergate” with another one of those government does what money wants it do, no kidding, things he has “discovered.”

A newspaper published in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City, which runs Brooks’ column, published the Democrats are as crazy as Republicans column a couple of days after it first appeared in the Times, but, wittingly or not, tossed a political cartoon on the same page that undermined Brooks’ silly message, with what most sane people have noticed:

This is not what the founders had in mind but exactly what Franklin thought could happen.


4 thoughts on “A Republic, if you can keep it

  1. Brooks is talking to republicans that have been loyal for years and now realizing that the crazies have taken over their party. They aren’t ready to admit that the democrats are their only choice or not vote at all. Most of us here read liberal and progessive blogs, so we see the comments from unhappy supportors of Obama. But there is a growing unhappieness in republican voters.

  2. There has been a fair amount of conjecture in the blogosphere saying repubs have sought to intentionally undermine the economy for political gain. You don’t hear politicians leveling such charges nor do you hear it from the MSM except maybe in a very oblique way.

    Nevertheless, repubs haven’t done a thing that one might term as constructive. No matter what economic remedies democrats or the administration has considered repubs have blocked every one in whatever way they could.

    In the same way that repubs were largely responsible for making this mess they are also largely responsible for its continuation. In fact, they are doubling down, where possible, on the very economic policies which got us here. For lack of a better word I would term what repubs have done and are doing as eco-terrorism.

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