Congress Is On Vacation From Reality
By: Guest Authors
By: Chad MacINNES
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my good friend Newt Gingrich requesting I sign the â€œDrill Here, Drill Nowâ€ petition. The email was entitled, â€œWhy is Congress on Vacation?â€ Why indeed? I thought about this for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that while Congress may spend several months in session and a few months total on vacation, based on my own assessment, I would have to say that the Congress of the United States is on a permanent vacation from reality. And this is nothing new. Theyâ€™ve been on this permanent vacation for a long, long time.
Lets go back four years to the Kerry vs. Bush bout that seemed to last longer than most of us could stomach. Remember the â€œI voted for the war before I voted against itâ€ nonsense? This kind of stuff, this talking out of both sides of the mouth and saying nothing, is not at all unique to John Kerry but is a quality to be found in most of our Representatives and Senators in Washington. The art of barely taking a position on something so as to retain a degree of plausible deniability is a much sought after trait and comes in very useful in the furtherance of oneâ€™s political career.
Donâ€™t get me wrong: I am not out simply to bash Democrats; I loathe faux-conservative sell-out Republicans equally as much, if not more. The thing with the Congress is that it breeds this kind of stuff. Why? Because once one is elected to either the House or Senate, oneâ€™s chances of ever having to fill out unemployment paperwork practically disappear. Incumbency works â€“ even when considering that most Americans donâ€™t even know who their Representatives and Senators are. Incumbency works because most people will look at a ballot â€“ if they even go to vote – and vote for the name they recognize. Incumbency also works because these clowns are wholly and entirely unaccountable to the people. They operate with impunity, and we are now suffering the consequences of this.
Take our current Speaker of the House, for example. After squashing a joint Democrat-Republican Bill addressing this nationâ€™s energy woes, and refusing to even hear the two sponsors out, much less bring the issue to the floor for a fair vote, Pelosi ordered the TV cameras and the lights turned off and, while we are paying almost of $4.00 per gallon at the pump, went home to California.
After passing only 2 out of 13 proposed Bills, overseeing absolutely crucial hearings on the use of steroids in Major League Baseball, failing to reform House ethics (Charlie Rangel, anyone?), and deservedly earning the absolute worst approval rating in history for a Speaker and the Congress, she had adjourn the House for its vacation to go on her book promotion tour. A New Direction? She goes off on her book tour leaving behind her a Congressional job approval that has dropped to between 14 and 18 percent. The following is from a story written in July at Newsbusters.org:
â€œThe percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.â€
â€œThe percentage of Democrats who give Congress positive ratings fell from 17% last month to 13% this month. The number of Democrats who give Congress a poor rating remained unchanged. Among Republicans, 8% give Congress good or excellent ratings, up just a point from last month. Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say Congress is doing a poor job, down a single point from last month.â€
â€œVoters not affiliated with either party are the most critical of Congressional performance. Just 3% of those voters give Congress positive ratings, down from 6% last month. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe Congress is doing a poor job, up from 57% last month.â€
Sadly, nobody really seemed to notice â€“ that is, at least not in the mainstream press and media. Of most concern ought to be that Madame Speaker Herself didnâ€™t seem to notice that she was doing such a poor job that she and her Congress had only a 9% approval rating by July. Or, maybe she did notice and figured that her friends in the media would bury the whole thing, and after her vacation all sheâ€™d have to do is get some good photo-ops with Obama at the convention and sheâ€™d be good to go. Unfortunately for the country it looks like she was right.
And let us not we forget how Madame Speaker likes to travel when going vacation: on a military aircraft, of course. But, not just any military aircraft. Her predecessor, Speaker Hastert, had use of a C-37, the military designation of the Gulfstream III, IV, or V corporate jet. Madame speaker wanted something more worthy of the first Madame Speaker, opting and bidding for the C-32, a Boeing 757 in an executive configuration as used by the First Lady, Vice-President and members of the Cabinet when they travel. Madame Speaker first cited the need for a larger jet in 2007 because, of course, she needed a plane that can make it to California from DC without refueling. As a professional pilot I can tell you this: All of the Gulfstreams can make that flight. But, the Gulfstreams do not have the executive amenities of the larger Boeing. Of course, she really needs the big plane for security reasons. Of course, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the ability hold court with her fans in the press-corps onboard a larger aircraft. Indeed, if you are Nancy Pelosi, then this is really the only exception for security trumping environmental impacts. And, just in case you were wondering, the 757 leaves one hell of a larger â€œcarbon footprintâ€ [please forgive the use of that loathsome termâ€¦] than the Gulfstream, yet she suddenly seemed unconcerned with that fact. Kudos to the Department of Defense for denying her request.
Of course, before going on vacation, Madame Speaker has to bash the President â€“ not that he doesnâ€™t deserve bashing for several reasons â€“ but empowers her minions to say stupid things like this: “It’s worrisome, but I understand it: The strategy of the Republicans has been to stop anything from happening â€“ and people think that nothing is being done to help their lives,” says Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan. Excuse my ignorance, but arenâ€™t the Democrats the majority and therefore the ruling party in the Congress?
According to the Christian Science Monitor: â€œHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi links the low ratings to Congress’s inability to end the war in Iraq or deliver on promises to lower gas prices. â€˜I think one of the reasons that Congress is at an all-time low in confidence with the American people is that we did not end the war â€“ and these issues that relate to energy,â€™ she said at a Monitor breakfast on June 24 .â€
The Monitor also notes: “The problem is overwhelmingly the 60-vote requirement [to end a filibuster] in the Senate,” says Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts. “If we could resolve that, we would be better off.” Who is â€œwe?â€ Is â€œweâ€ the people, or is â€œweâ€ the incompetent socialist leaning â€œProgressivesâ€ in Congress?
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) of North Carolina, who has often squared off with Mr. Frank, said this: “It’s a Democrat thing, because it’s a Democrat-controlled Congress, but it’s really due to the fact that we’re not addressing the American people’s problems: high gas prices, out-of-control spending, soft economy, and the housing crunch.” Gee, you think?
Way to go Madame Speaker! One would have been hard pressed indeed to find a better time to go on vacation â€“ or promote a book, (which, incidentally has bombed â€“ even after her free ride on The View). She really gets it, this Nancy Pelosi. What is even more frightening is that the leadership, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of the legislative body itself, and the legislative body itself is a direct reflection of the nation.
The goal here is not simply to bash Madame Speaker (even though she readily deserves it), but also to point out that with such a leadership void, what are we to expect. You donâ€™t have to be a genius to know that policy is directed from the top down. Pelosi is Speaker of the House of Representatives â€“a very, very powerful and influential position. Or at least it ought to be. So what does her incompetence say about the rest of the Congress, specifically the party that made her the Speaker? If this party cannot even bring itself to pick a person of marginal competence for a position that is third in line of succession to the Presidency, then what can they be entrusted with? Energy? The deficit? The military? National security? What?
What Pelosi demonstrates is the fundamental mindset of Congress â€“ on vacation from reality. â€œYes, Iâ€™m in charge of Congress, Iâ€™m Speaker of the House, but itâ€™s not my fault nothing is getting done â€“ itâ€™s the Republicansâ€™ fault because they wonâ€™t work with us.â€ (I guess no one told her that they are the opposition and by virtue of that fact are supposed to disagree with her). â€œItâ€™s George Bush â€“ heâ€™s a total failure!â€ Her statement to the Christian Science Monitor is as telling as it is illogical. If the Congress really wanted to do something, it would be done. Let us not be deluded: Congress generally can and does do whatever it wants to, whenever it wants to. This has been proven time and again as they continually violate the Constitution and abdicate their real responsibilities. If Pelosi had a modicum of leadership skill, she would be able to muster enough votes to get something â€“ anything – done. But, as we all know, it is far easier and more convenient for her to have it both ways. Pelosi is a microcosm of a House devoid of effective leadership and wholly detached from reality.
After all, how could anyone even remotely in touch with reality and marginally competent in their position of leadership such as it is allow such absolute nonsense to go on indefinitely? How could any true leader so misuse the Congress, making it their personal platform to merely pontificate on the problematic issues of the day, yet with no intention of even addressing any problems when there are clearly so many issues are in need of urgent attention? How can one to allow this legislature to continue to spend such obscene amounts of money that they all know isnâ€™t there to be spent? How can one continue to allow this Congress to abdicate itsâ€™ responsibility for oversight over the rest of the government and especially over the back-door â€œintegrationâ€ agreements with our neighboring countries under the SPP both of which serve to dramatically undermine our sovereignty? Perhaps it is all a distraction technique to draw attention away from their own incompetence. Worse yet, maybe they really do think that the most important achievement they were able to accomplish in the last session was to apologize for slavery. If this is so, we are all in real trouble. (Personally, I think we are all in real troubleâ€¦)
One wonders if and when, Madame Speaker will call for a vote on the bi-partisan energy proposal she recently squashed, or better yet â€“ if she will hold hearings on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in consideration of the fact that they will need a bailout to the tune of $1.4 trillion. But, considering the fact that those really responsible for the mortgage meltdown are Clinton hacks like Franklin Delano Raines and Jamie Gorelick, any reasonable person would have to say that any serious hearings are highly unlikely.
Well, I guess the idea of holding serious hearings in Congress is really an oxymoron â€“ especially after hearing Rep. Stephen Lynch (D. So. Boston) question Roger Clements about the size of the needle holes in his right butt cheek in order to determine if they are of the same gage necessary to inject steroids.
The bottom line is this: our country did not just suddenly end up in the predicament that it is currently in. Actions have consequences, and when Congress acts foolishly we all suffer. The fundamental problem is that we have suffered from a leadership vacuum for far too many years now. Yet Congress still keeps on going about its business as usual, accomplishing nothing of substance or usefulness, pretending that the best way to solve our national woes is to continue to throw money at all the problems â€“ money that we just do not have. Itâ€™s not just a Democrat problem. A Republican controlled Congress began this spending spree. And I do not believe that either party is capable of stopping it, because fiscal responsibility is not longer in their nature. A spending deficit always results from a leadership deficit. Shame on the Democrats. Shame on the Republicans. And shame on us if we do not act to stop this madness that is destroying our nation.
Congress has failed us miserably. It might be too late to give them a reality check this November, but as far as Iâ€™m concerned itâ€™s open season on Congress for 2010. Letâ€™s bring government back to reality. Consider the joy of sending these clowns on a permanent vacation. Consider running for Congress in 2010. Maybe, just maybe, we can start a new Conservative Revolution like my good friend Newt Gingrich. Maybe this time we can get it right and make it last.