Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pride cometh before the fall

Our government is broken. Kaput. FUBAR! Why would I say that? Because those who get elected to do our bidding, irrespective of party, once they set up residence in the 23 square miles surrounded by reality (better known as Washington, DC), seem intent only on lining their own pockets, taxpayers be damned. If you argue its always been that way, read your history. David McCullough might be a good place to start. While corruption isn't new, there was a time when men left their homes, and vocations, to serve their term (or terms), contribute their skills and time to the commons, and came back home. That used to be the model, before our current crooks in office, turned public service into a personal ATM card.

A case in point is the indictment of Alaska Republican Senator, Ted Stevens, on seven felony counts. This is a serious blow to a minority party that is one the ropes. It also highlights how the machinations in DC are devoid of reality.

For a party potentially awaiting a November bloodbath, I hear an awful lot of clucking coming from their AM/FM radio mouthpieces. Just today, Rush Limbaugh was talking about the indictment with the same victim mentality he derides in others. Limbaugh was trotting out one of the right-wing’s tired canards, the one where all charges of wrongdoing of a good ‘ole conservative is the deceptive work of the “driveby” liberal media. Limbaugh posited that if it was a Democrat, like some Senator from one of the southern states (I’m sorry, I was driving and didn’t write it down and Mr. Limbaugh charges for access to his archived programs), this would be ignored, or downplayed.

I’m sure that other conservative commentators will be picking up this mantra, rallying around Stevens, or at least, excusing the inexcusable.

If anyone happened to be paying attention, Stevens was no political neophyte. The 84-year-old, serving his seventh term, was considered the king of Appropriations, legendary for ensuring spending earmarks for his state. His procurement of pork made him immensely popular at home—it also underscores some of the issues that some of us have with the GOP—it says one thing about fiscal responsibility, but goes out and does something entirely contrary, undermining any platform they might have to stand on when it comes to fiscal credibility. All you really need to know about Mr. Stevens, you can learn by a Google search for, “Ted Stevens” and “bridge to nowhere.” I’m linking to the excellent Washington Post article on the subject.
While many in Washington think their role is to deliver pork back to their home districts. An interesting article by Pat Toomey in the Wall Street Journal seems to contradict that idea, at least when it comes to the sentiments of the American taxpayer.

Toomey’s organization, the Club for Growth recently conducted a nationwide poll showing that voters are fed up with Washington's out-of-control spending.

Here are the particulars of the poll, from the article:

The poll was conducted in late June, surveying 800 voters. It’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.46%. Likely voters were asked the following question: "All things being equal, for whom would you be more likely to vote for the U.S. Congress: 1) A candidate who wants to cut overall federal spending, even if that includes cutting some money that would come to your district or 2) A candidate who wants to increase overall spending on federal programs, as long as more federal spending and projects come to your district?"

The results were unambiguous. Fifty-four percent of general election voters chose the frugal candidate, compared with only 29% who chose the profligate candidate. Republicans overwhelming favor less federal spending, 72% to 17%, with independents close behind at 61%. Only Democrats prefer more federal spending, but only by a plurality. Thirty-six percent of Democrats chose the more fiscally conservative candidate, with 42% choosing the alternative.

It seems pretty clear to me. Americans are sick-and-tired of politics as usual. While I have my own reservations about Mr. Obama, and his qualifications for being our next president, the hubris coming from the right will do little to change many Americans perceptions about the Republican Party.

A little humility would go a long way towards getting their flawed candidate elected in November. Instead, they continue to throw stones, while living in their own glass domiciles.

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