I am beginning to loathe November. Every second year, we as a nation endure the paroxysm of election, and every second year seems to be more demented than the last. Do not get me wrong: I am a devotee of the church of democracy, and I get a deep visceral thrill every time I get to cast a vote. But man oh man, it is a trying time every time, and never more so than over the last ten years.
2000 was the match to the fuse that blew the country apart.
2002 was Max Cleland getting compared to Osama bin Laden while Karl Rove told his fellow Republicans to “run on the war” in Iraq that was still five months from coming to pass.
2004 brought the unthinkable re-election of the worst president this nation has ever seen, with a little help from some gutter-low electoral hijinks in Ohio.
2006 saw the Democrats finally pushing back, only to take their new power and do little with it; the wars went on, the Bush program continued unabated, and the justice of impeachment was declared “off the table.”
In 2008, we were spared the horror of “President McCain and Vice President Palin,” only to be handed half a loaf after half a loaf after half a loaf by a Democratic congressional majority that could not get out of its own way, and by a White House that sought compromise from a GOP minority that, quite simply, wanted the new president and his whole party dead.
There was a hint of an idea after 2008 that the insanity of the previous eight years had been broken, finally and forever, but it did not last. Now, in this year of our Lord 2010, we have endured yet another deranged November, and the same American people who had been so victimized by savage GOP policy decided their best bet was to let the wolf back inside the fence.
(And P.S., gentle Truthout reader: if you are of a mind to fill the comments section of this article with exclamations about the equivalence of the two parties, I would invite you to save your energy; anyone who can not or will not see the difference between a person like Sharron Angle and a person like Harry Reid would be well-served by spending some time in a padded room wearing a coat that laces up in the back)
The first Tuesday of the month of November has come and gone, and this is the point in the exercise where people in my line of work are expected – nay, required – to indulge in a load of what-does-it-all-mean navel-gazing. For the most part, it all comes out to be nothing more or less than an avalanche of verbal diarrhea from so-called “experts” who allegedly should know better, but clearly don’t. This particular November has been no exception, and the only reason I haven’t put a bullet through my television is because I like watching the Celtics, Bruins and Patriots too much. Maybe I’m weak, but there are other channels besides CNN, and I am thankful for small favors because of it.
What does it all mean?
It means that the US House of Representatives, and to a lesser extent the US Senate, have once again been transformed into a theater of the absurd. Rep. Allen West of Florida is proud to have tortured an Iraqi policeman during his tour of duty, and prouder still to be a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang. Rep. Vicky Hartzler thinks God told her to amend her state’s constitution to ban gay marriage. Rep. Tim Walberg believes the best use of the House of Representative’s time would be to pursue impeachment proceedings against President Obama to determine the validity of his birth certificate. Senator Rand Paul sounds like he will block efforts to pay the national debt, despite the fact that such an act would cripple the dollar and annihilate the global economy.
The beat goes on.
It means that we should all be prepared to deal with the House Select Subcommittee investigation into the validity of Mr. Obama’s citizenship, whether he is a secret Muslim fascist communist socialist terrorist mole, and maybe even whether or not he is, in fact, the re-incarnation of Adolf Hitler. For sure, it means there will be very public hearings into the “fact” that global warming is a fraud. It means everyone working in the White House better get themselves a good lawyer and have a cool quarter million dollars handy for legal fees, because if history (read: the 1990’s) is any guide, a Republican House squared off against a Democratic administration means a blizzard of subpoenas from various GOP-chaired committees over anything and everything they can think of. The GOP learned this tactic during the Clinton years, and they will do it again. In short, the new Republican House will treat this Democratic president the way the Democratic House should have treated the Bush administration, but with no cause other than to disrupt and dismember.
It means that Alan Grayson’s strong, strident voice will no longer be heard. Worse, it means that Russ Feingold is gone, which is a tragedy beyond reckoning, almost beyond comprehension. His final words to his constituents – “Thank you. Thank you for your support over the years. Representing Wisconsin in the Senate has been the greatest honor of my life and together we accomplished many great things. No one has ever had such a strong foundation of support as I have. You gave me my backbone. In the words of Bob Dylan: ‘But my heart is not weary. It’s light and free. I’ve got nothing but affection for those who have sailed with me.’ Forward!” – fail to convey the pathos left in the wake of his sudden, terrible absence.
It means the “mainstream” news media had a chance to explain what happened on Tuesday with honesty and accuracy, and once again blew it, as expected. This was not an election proving America is a “center-right nation,” whatever the hell that means. In 2006 and 2008, the Democrats won a slew of House seats in districts that had historically rejected them out of hand. This happened because the Bush administration and the GOP were so God-awful that even their own people rejected them. In 2008, for example, several dozen districts elected a Democrat to the House while simultaneously going for McCain. What happened on Tuesday had some to do with the economy, very little to do with the so-called “Tea Party,” and almost everything to do with those several dozen House seats snapping back to their normal states of being.
It means that Tuesday was bad, but could have been worse. It means the GOP better put up or shut up, unless they want the insane yahoos that just got elected to run wild and hurl the party into a highly destructive civil war. It means the Obama administration is going to have to play small-ball for a while, and rely quite a bit more on Executive Orders than on legislation. It means the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. It means we will have more opportunities to watch these “small government” GOP hypocrites grow the government exponentially, as they did during the Bush years, while lying about it with their bare faces hanging out. It means that if Mr. Obama doesn’t get it into his head that the GOP cannot be compromised with, then he will be a one-termer as sure as water is wet.
It also means that I’m going to give the newly-empowered GOP a week – maybe two – before I start caterwauling about why they haven’t fixed the economy, joblessness, the wars, terrorism and the fact that my pants don’t fit right. According to the GOP, Obama and the Democrats were expected to cure all that ails us the very bleeding minute they walked in the door two years ago, and last I heard, turnabout is fair play.
So, yeah, the clock is ticking. And yeah, things are about to get very weird around here.