Pomp, and Little CircumstanceI wonder if they borrowed a talking head from MSNBC to write this vitriolic editorial.
A theatrical production of unusual pomposity will open on Wednesday when Republicans assume control of the House for the 112th Congress. A rule will be passed requiring that every bill cite its basis in the Constitution. (ed.note: and they see fault with this?) A bill will be introduced to repeal the health care law. On Thursday, the Constitution will be read aloud in the House chamber.(again, where is the fault here? The pomposity?) And in one particularly self-important flourish, the new speaker, John Boehner, arranged to have his office staff “sworn in” on Tuesday by the chief justice of the United States.
Those who had hoped to see a glimpse of the much-advertised Republican plan to revive the economy and put Americans back to work will have to wait at least until party leaders finish their Beltway insider ritual of self-glorification. Then, they may find time for governing.
The empty gestures are officially intended to set a new tone in Washington, to demonstrate — presumably to the Republicans’ Tea Party supporters — that things are about to be done very differently. But it is far from clear what message is being sent by, for instance, reading aloud the nation’s foundational document. Is this group of Republicans really trying to suggest that they care more deeply about the Constitution than anyone else and will follow it more closely?(why, yes, yes they are!)
In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person. (since they are reading the whole constitution this is a riduculous and hateful statement.)
There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it. The new House leadership says this is necessary because the health care law and other measures that Republicans do not like have veered from the Constitution. But it is the judiciary that ultimately decides when a law is unconstitutional, not the transitory occupant of the speaker’s chair. (This whole editorial is vacuous and hateful in any conservative point of view.)
All of this, though, is simply eyewash — the equivalent of a flag-draped background to a speech — compared with the actual legislation the Republicans plan to pass. And though much of that has no possibility of being enacted, it does suggest the depth of the struggle to come. The bill tauntingly titled the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” has nothing to do with increasing employment and will never reach the Senate floor, but shows that the leadership is willing to threaten the hard-fought access to health care for millions of the uninsured, just to make a political point. (we can certainly hope so!)
On budgetary issues, the House Republicans’ new rules bypass the chamber and even their own Budget Committee to give all power to set spending levels to the committee’s new chairman, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. It is hard to imagine how long such an aggrandizement of power will last in a contentious body like the House. The plans by Mr. Ryan and his colleagues to simply cut all spending back to 2008 levels also have no chance of being enacted.
The one good thing about these meaningless rules and bills is that they finally seem to be prodding House Democrats into standing up for their own programs as they enter the minority. Democrats have begun to remind Americans of what is at stake in repealing health care: popular provisions like the elimination of lifetime coverage limits, insurance under parents’ policies up to age 26, and coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The Republicans’ antics are a ghastly waste of time at a moment when the nation is expecting real leadership from Congress, and suggest that the new House leadership is still unable to make tough choices. Voters, no less than drama critics, prefer substance to overblown theatrics.
Someone, somewhere in the heart of the almost extinct Old Gray Lady, is really feeling left out as the Republicans take over the house. I feel no sympathy for him/her, they helped in the making of the Democratic Administration that has rained down such disaster on our country.