In trying to be fair in describing Sen. Ted Cruz in one word, the word that surfaced again and again was windbag, “a person who talks at length but says little of value.”
Twenty hours and change, the reading from Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” was an intellectual high point as Cruz rambled on, a petulant spoiled child digging in his heels as an obstacle to any rational discussion.
But then, in the current political climate, ‘windbag’ is probably the kindest moniker for most of the assorted motley crew assembled in our nation’s capitol.
That’s another word that comes to mind. They shut down the government without even knowing what that means.
Mark Segraves, reporting for NBC News, caught the stunningly stupid Rep. Randy Newgebauer (R-Tex) at the World War II Memorial talking to a park ranger who was forced by an obstinate and calcified Congress to close the park:
"How do you look at them and ... deny them access?" said Neugebauer. He, with most House Republicans, had voted early Sunday morning to pass a funding measure that would delay the Affordable Care Act, a vote that set up a showdown with the Senate and President Barack Obama. With the parties unable to agree on how to fund the federal government, non-essential government functions shut down Tuesday.
"It's difficult," responded the Park Service employee.
"Well, it should be difficult," replied the congressman, who was carrying a small American flag in his breast pocket.
"It is difficult," responded the Park Service employee. "I'm sorry, sir."
"The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves," the congressman said.
"I'm not ashamed," replied the ranger.
There was only one person in that exchange that needed be ashamed and it was not the park ranger.
Whatever your position might be on Congress or the Affordable Care Act, the most problematic result of the current stalemate is not the debt ceiling, or the funding of government for a day or two.
The most troubling result is the message it sends to the already numbingly lock-step members of Congress. The way you get your way is to refuse to pass a budget and threaten to shut down government.
In this case the Republican Tea Party conservatives are leading the way. In the future it could be the Democrat liberals deciding to hold the country hostage over other policy decisions like gun control or abortion rights. "Get rid of handguns or we won't pass a budget."
Along with the Affordable Care Act, those are policy debates that need to be aired out in public, issues to sort out, difficult compromises to reach. But those discussions need to occur in an air uncluttered by ultimatums.
I had coffee this morning with my good friend and dueling partner T. Loos. T was talking about how folks are so tired of the rancor in Congress that many want to through the whole bunch out and start afresh. I would have to admit to voicing that same opinion. He said he heard a discussion on an Omaha station where the commentator said that was the lazy man’s way out.
He said there are good people in Congress and we need to do the hard work of figuring out who those people are and keep them in office while getting rid of the chaff.
Good point well made.
I don’t know right now what affiliation Elizabeth Warren has and I don’t really care. I’ve heard her speak on a number of topics, and I’d take her as a Congressperson any day. I’d even like to see her run for president.
And I’m sure there are others, on both sides of the isle.
But there is a whole manure spreader full of politicians than need to be spread out on a field to bake in the sun. Just to get rid of the smell.