So, I got married two weekends ago, and spent all of last week honeymooning with my wife in front of a stone fireplace in a tiny cabin by a tiny lake in the woods of New Hampshire. No cell phone reception; no TV channels because the tube was still hooked up to an analog antenna on the roof that looked to have been there since the Truman administration; no internet access whatsoever; the only newspapers to be found were at the end of several miles of a rutted, rock-strewn, dirt road, and since neither of us felt particularly compelled to deal with anything except each other, my wife and I pretty much fell completely off the planet.
Coming home, in retrospect, may have been an egregious tactical error on my part. One hour of television news, one hour of reading last week’s news dispatches, made me want to pile back into the car and race back to that cabin, where the only stupidity was self-inflicted and the only crazy was the flight pattern of the bats snatching insects off the top of the lake.
“Balloon Boy”? Seriously? Even after the whole spectacle of a boy named after a bird allegedly flying across Colorado in a giant Jiffy-Pop canister was exposed as a hoax, even after all the major news networks found out beyond all dispute that they had all been punked by some erstwhile reject from a bad reality show, they kept showing it, and showing it, and showing it. The father, who apparently masterminded this sad farce, is likely going to get creamed on several fronts – financially and legally for openers – and deservedly so, because as we all know, the states are in dire economic distress and cannot spare fiscal resources to chase down unmanned (unboyed?) floating popcorn bulbs … but with two wars, health care reform, bank reform, Iranian stress, bombs, death and general mayhem breaking loose all over the joint, one would think the TV guys would choose to focus on something besides an incident that made them all look like absolute fools.
Ha. What am I thinking? Cover the news? Things haven’t changed that much in a week.
The Republican Party did its part last week to make sure everyone in America got their USDA recommended daily allowance of dumb by rolling out a new RNC web site that became an immediate first-ballot entrant into the Unintentional Comedy Hall of Fame. For openers, when the site was unveiled, a prominent link to “Future GOP Leaders” when clicked, led to a page reading, “404 Error: This page could not be found.”
The rest of the site is riddled with pictures of black people and women, two groups that tend to vote for GOP candidates about as often as water gets turned into wine at weddings. The page dedicated to the history of the party was filled with references to great 19th century accomplishments – the Trans-Continental Railroad and the ending of slavery were most prominently displayed – put the 20th century pickings were, understandably, pretty slim. Best of all, the page dedicated to Ronald Reagan referred to him as “Ronaldus Magnus,” which, loosely translated, means “Ronald the Great.”
Yeah. That happened.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele covered himself in glory last Wednesday in comments regarding President Obama’s health care reform. I could try to describe this myself, but Josh Marshall over on Talking Points Memo pretty much nailed it better than I or anyone else could: “In response to press reports saying that the health care reform train is leaving the station with President Obama at the wheel (or whatever you use to run a train), Michael Steele just told Fox to look out because he is a ‘cow on the tracks.'” In other words, in addition to his other shortcomings, Steele is apparently unschooled on the history of train/cow confrontations, though I’m not sure it’s a metaphor Democrats will necessarily want to dispute. Later, in a new strike in his ongoing war with his own dignity, Steele pleaded for a ‘Rodney King moment’ on health care.”
The Democrats, for their part, were not about to let a bunch of disorganized, technologically-challenged, Republican bovines corner the market on stupidity, apparently. Feel free to check my math on this, but I’m pretty sure a Democrat won the White House by a significant margin, Democrats control three-fifths of the Senate, and Democrats hold a similarly large margin in the House … and yet the GOP seems to be totally in control of the current health care debate, to the point that the very popular “Public Option” is about to be abandoned by the side of the road like a puppy everyone loves, but refuses to be responsible for. Yes, yes, the insurance companies are strong, the GOP is better at message maintenance, and most of the TV news networks have gone to great pains to sabotage the debate.
But you are in charge, Democrats. You have the votes. As Truthout writer Scott Galindez explained on Monday, “Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) voted for the weakest of the five health care bills passed by Congressional committees. Big deal. If the bill that goes to the Senate floor is weak enough for her to vote for, then the insurance companies will win and the American people will lose … I really hope the Democrats get it. I hope this attempt at getting bipartisan support was all show, and the Democrats stop worrying about getting GOP support. The label ‘party of no’ is not new for them. They opposed FDR’s New Deal (including Social Security), Johnson’s Great Society (including Medicare). Republican support is not needed, and, at this point, let them be on the wrong side of history as they have been on most great reform legislation.”
Smartest thing I’ve seen all week.