October 16 2013
Note to Capitol Hill: Please Get Serious
“People are thinking about primaries, they really are,” says a GOP chief of staff.
--Jonathan Strong in National Review
Whatever you think about the Heritage Action Committee’s calling the latest House attempt to deal with the nation’s financial impasse a “key” vote, one that could have a negative impact on a congressional career, the men and women on Capitol Hill should be thinking about anything but primaries today. They should be thinking about the fate of the United States.
This is not to take sides on arcane bills to be voted upon or not to be voted upon. It is not to take sides on Heritage Action. It is to express intense anger at any member of Congress who is thinking about his or her political prospects at this moment.
There are many members of this Congress who present themselves as swashbuckling crusaders for the public weal, but apparently they are strong, principled, and courageous men and women until the threat of a primary looms. I have the same disgust for their posturing, a form of frivolity, expressed by a guest on Greta van Sustern's show last night.The guest is a small businesswoman from Virginia. (I can't seem to locate a transcript.)
She talked about how the shutdown is affecting her. She does government contracting and may end up having to let much of her workforce go. She was saddened by the seeming joviality—hey, we’re ordering pizzas and we’re going to be here all night!—of the preceding guest, a member of Congress. Like van Susteren's guest, I wanted him to wipe the smile off his face and stop talking about the damned pizzas. Don't get me wrong: I'd like to cut the government down permanently. And I totally agreed with the member's take that special ObamaCare exemptions for Congress are morally and politically repugnant. I just wanted him to stop smiling and signal that he realizes what is at stake.
We also have an aloof president, who apparently has learned little about how to run a government in five years, and Democrats who are so destructive that, one feels, they would willingly go into default as long as it apppears they can blame the GOP. Their rhetoric is vicious and unworthy. When it’s not absurd:
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) told Republicans they're "acting like you're committing domestic abuse" by refusing to fund the government (and Obamacare) or raise the debt ceiling.
"I have to say, when you start acting like you're committing domestic abuse, you've got a problem. 'I love you dear, but you know, I'm shutting down your entire government. I love you dear, but I'm going to default and you're going to be weak.' Something is dreadfully wrong."
Similarly, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell infantilizes this most perilous pass in our history by reducing it to estrogen:
“If it were up to the women, this would be over already,” she said. “There’s still a lot of testosterone going around.”
I think that what Ms. Cantwell is referring to it this: there are 20 women in Congress, four of whom are Republicans. The GOP women would get clobbered! Of course, one GOP woman, moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine, did put forth a compromise, which was quickly voted down. Did her "sisters" on the other side of the aisle rally to suport her?
The GOP has two really important ObamaCare related issues (actually far more than two!): the already-noted ObamaCare privileges for Congress, which believes that, unlike ordinary ObamaCare victims, it deserves special subsidies to pay premiums, and the need to verify financial information before giving somebody an ObamaCare subsidy. The honor system isn’t going to work in a country where government dependence has taught many people to be dishonorable. As for special treatment for the ruling class (Congress), this should be a win-win for Republicans. How could you lose on this?
If the U.S. defaults both these issues could be forgotten for a time.