Thursday, October 1, 2009
A political story that has it all: stupidity, lying, cynicism, pandering, weakness. It's the perfect demonstration of everything that's wrong with our politics, and proof that there is, undeniably, no hope. Congress is failing us. Willfully. Gleefully. Irretrievably.
Unable to pass health care reform, unwilling to stop the flow of money to insurers who have no role providing care, the Senate Finance Committee nevertheless looks ready to approve the appropriation of fifty million dollars for "abstinence only" education. "It works," says Orrin Hatch.
He is, of course, entirely right. Assuming that by "it works" one means "it doesn't work." Study after study has shown its failure to change the biological call to the rutting of teenagers. Unanimously, Republicans voted for it, along with enough Democrats to pass the proposal.
So, what's the explanation? Are they too stupid to read; do they know the facts but choose simply to ignore them; is it a naked case of pandering to those in their parties who are, in fact, too stupid to read or understand? These fighters for fiscal discipline: willing -- nay, anxious -- to spend money on a discredited program. At best out of duncedom; at worst for completely cynical political reasons. Fifty million -- a drop in the bucket nowadays. But perfectly symbolic of where we are.
Fair is fair: let's not ignore the fact that Democrats, along with many Republicans, have voted to spend billions to continue building C-17 cargo planes, despite the fact that the Pentagon says they're unneeded, and despite Obama's urging to kill it. Credit to John McCain for calling them all out. (Unlike abstinence education, one can at least argue for building the planes as a jobs program. At least that would be semi-honest.)
Obama ought to veto the appropriations bill. I'm betting he won't.
Stupidity, ignorance of fact, craven playing to the craziest of one's supporters, caving to well-financed lobbyists. These stories have it all, and show, once again, why it is no longer rational to hope for good governance from Congress. This stuff was simple, binary: abstinence education -- doesn't work; more C-17s -- not needed. If they can't deal with such mindless stuff, how can we expect anything good on health care, energy, education, economy?
Answer: we can't.