Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Partisan Politics Stikes Again

Remember high school? You know, that period in your life that, on one hand, you'd like to remember fondly for the friends, fun times, and frolic. But on the other hand, that period in your life you'd like to forget because of the immaturity, infighting, and imbecility of it all. Yesterday, the House of Representatives acted like everything we'd like to forget about the high school experience. Those we've elected to represent our interests on a national level acted like high school kids involved in a battle over who would get to sit at the best table in the lunchroom or date the homecoming queen (king).

The insertion of partisan politics into what should have been a bi-partisan effort to address a looming financial crisis (whether the crisis is real or not doesn't matter when people and investors believe it's real) was just as immature and imbecilic as anything we should be ashamed of in high school. Both political parties are responsible for this failure. No wonder Congress' approval ratings are so low, when those who should be our leaders can't put aside partisan politics to work together for the good of the nation and those they purport to lead.

The Democrats and Speaker Pelosi are responsible for their continued partisan attacks and "get Bush" finger pointing (most of which is inaccurate and incorrect) since this crisis arose. (Read one liberal blogger's opinion why Speaker Pelosi has to go.) As I've said before, the "Why" is important only in order to figure out how to prevent it from happening again. It seems like everything the Democrats do, every action they take or speech they make, is designed to, somehow, point blame at Bush, McCain, Palin or the Republicans. Even in the bi-partisan meeting at the White House last week to discuss the pending crisis and propose a possible solution, the reports are that the Democrats, through their spokesperson Senator Obama, injected partisan politics and angered those they were supposed to work with in order to decide what action needed to be taken. Did they not want a bi-partisan effort to succeed? But the capstone of this partisan political finger pointing was Speaker Pelosi's ill-conceived and ill-timed partisan tirade on the floor of the House Chamber just before the bail-out bill vote. What in the world was she thinking? Wasn't this supposed to be a bi-partisan effort, with our leaders working in concert to avert a continued economic meltdown? Was she deliberately trying to sabotage the passage of this bill? Did she want to alienate the House Republicans? She's no political neophyte and had to know what she was doing when she launched that shot across the Republican bow. Is it because she didn't have sufficient Democrat votes to pass the bill, even though the Democrats control the House, and so decided to take the nuclear option of a political tirade to try to shift blame?

The House Republicans' actions are just as bad. If, indeed, they changed their vote because of Speaker Pelosi's tirade, they fell right into her potential trap and looked like immature high schoolers who decided to let their hurt feelings override their common sense. It gave her, and the Democrats a chance to blame the bill's failure on the House Republicans rather than accept where that the real failure lies with them. I don't know if the Republican leadership had sufficient votes to pass the legislation, or not, but they if they didn't they should have said so and not blamed Pelosi's speech, no matter how incendiary it was. Most conservatives will have had legitimate concerns about the bailout bill; it grows government and spends taxpayer money in a way that is antithetical to conservative principles. It is the next best thing to nationalizing some banking interests, and is more akin to socialism than conservatism. I can understand why House Republicans who want to stick to their political principles would vote against the bill. I also happen to respect legislators who listen to the needs of their constituents, and it seems like most of the House Republicans had constituents who were vehemently opposed to the bailout bill. Those are legitimate reasons to vote against the bill; not because their feelings were hurt by the Democrat Speaker's partisan political tirade.

So what's next? Almost everyone agrees that the Government needs to do something. What shape that "something" will take remains to be seen; but what is very clear (at least to me) is that our representatives need to stop the partisan political bickering. As Senator McCain says, there needs to be a stop to the blame-game. There's a time and a place for political wrangling; and there is no place for it when there is a real (or perceived-real) crisis facing the nation. Our legislators and national leaders need to get it together and work toward a solution, and not play high school one-up-manship. Grow up, will ya!

Check out what Time says about the political credibility crisis.


Grama36 said...


HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I do agree the congress acted immaturely, but this has been the trend in the GWB years. I find myself on the side of the republicans which virtually NEVER happens, but for reasons different than those espoused by the GOP leadership.

More disturbing are the divisions I now see in the politics of our country which are incredibly, shockingly deep and I wonder seriously if the trend is reversible. I won't engage in an argument here and would rather share a bit of a personal epiphany.

I think the bigger question during this series of crises is how we got here. Our country is in it's most tenuous time since its very inception and it is being little addressed by congress, the White House, or the American people themselves.

You mention the low approval rating of congress yet approval ratings for individual members of the house remain relatively high. "Congress sucks, but my person is great..." This sentiment reveals the abysmal breach in not only our political divides, but our collective view of reality.

We are in a crisis of consciousness as a nation and no one seems to be paying attention. If we continue down this road of not only dissension, but anathematic disjunction between countrymen, our hopes of a future are disparagingly limited.

I watched an interview this morning with former U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich who discussed his book, The Limits of Power, with Bill Moyers. It was enlightening and frightening. I recommend it highly.

In this overly-long comment I'll end with, we must find enough common ground as a nation to allow for a 'live and let live' philosophy to survive among ourselves and the rest of the world's peoples. We may not agree, but we can agree to disagree and allow each other the freedom to think freely, unencumbered by the squelching of dissent, or why did we base our entire way of life on the Constitution?

Your posts are thoughtful and well-written, and I thank you for the excogitative pieces.

david mcmahon said...

Just when we think we understand politics, a major shift takes place!

lela said...

Hope, Thanks for the compliment on the posts...if you've read any of my archives, the purpose of this blog was to join the bigger "conversation" out there and it's nice to know someone is listening (besides my family ;) who has to listen).

As far as your epiphany, it's one a lot of us have had; no matter what our political point of view. Like you, I'm disturbed by the increasingly "uncivil" split between political ideologies and those who espouse them. This split is manifested in a number of different ways on both the left and the right. What's important, and here's where I agree with you, is that no one seems to recognize just how harmful this deranged incivility can be. You say that, if this "anathematic disjunction between countrymen" continues, "our hopes of a future are disparagingly limited." I hope not. (Like you, I'd like to think that hope truly springs eternal.)

I sincerely hope that people like you and I, who do see the harm in being uncivilized, even when disagreeing, will take action and tell our politicians to "grow up" and if they don't we'll be unafraid to vote them out of office. Anyone who can't be civil and who can't agree to at least listen to different viewpoints (even if the end result is an agreement to disagree) is not a leader we need for this nation, at any level.

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