One of my favorite war flicks is Patton and as portrayed by George C. Scott in an Oscar-winning performance, the old “blood n’ guts” general was tough, ruthless, focused like a laser beam on crushing his enemies and showing up his rivals. The fact that he was egotistical, vain, and maybe a borderline sociopath doesn’t deflect from George S. Patton’s brilliance as a military leader.
I can’t imagine Patton being effective in anything less than wartime conditions. What works on the battlefield would be disastrous anywhere else and particularly the “no retreat, no surrender” hardline stance. This is why the Republican Party’s “take no prisoners and make no compromises” view of how politics should be played seems to be no Republican son-of-a-bitch can win by treating the Democratic son-of-a-bitch as an enemy to be obliterated. Even though politics is said to be war without bloodshed, without the possibility of compromise it becomes every bit as brutal as war.
Two intellectuals, Thomas Mann and Norman J. Orenstein penned a very popular column for The Washington Post (which you might want to read before proceeding) and their central premise is our government is broken and if Republicans didn’t break it, they are vested in keeping it broken.
Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.
It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization.
Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.
It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.
The essay (which has been “liked” and shared over 100,000 times on Facebook, tweeted more than 2,400 times and received up to 5000 replies before the WaPo website stopped counting) is taken from the authors book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. The popularity of the piece probably will sell a few more copies than a book with a clunky title normally would.
The idea that Washington has become a place where not much get done isn’t a new one. Post columnist Dana Milbank points out the House of Representatives has been in session only 41 out of 127 days in 2012 and will be on vacation for 17 of the remaining 34 weeks. On the rare occasions the House members are in town it’s only for three days.
Nice work if you want to call that work (to be fair, Milbank notes that over in the Democratic-run Senate…of the 87 votes, the majority were on just three bills: 25 on the highway bill, 16 on the postal bill and 13 on an insider-trading bill. Sixteen others were on confirmations.
What’s the problem with a Congress where nothing much gets done because one party considers “compromise” a dirty word (I see you over there Don)? If the GOP is successful in taking back the Senate and holding on to the House this fall you can bet you’ll see a lot more legislation than the 106 passed so far by the 112th Congress.
Even if President Obama wins reelection, if he finds he’s going to have to send congratulations to Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell he’s going to go through a lot of veto pens and Rolaids.
Even if you think a dysfunctional Congress that can’t pass anything but the most inoffensive and menial bills where its members regard the other side not simply as wrong on issues, but un-American isn’t a bad thing, there is no reason for anyone but the most blindly partisan to even run for office.
Why bother if you are a Democrat, you can’t reach across the aisle to your Republican colleague when he or she believes they were sent to Congress to spit in that hand. Allen West, whom Mann and Ornstein name-check has called his own Congressional representative, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, “vile” and “not a lady.” What the hell could they ever work together on to mutually benefit the people of Florida?
Let’s take the Republicans at their word the government really is the enemy. Is it really surprising they seemingly have no interest in assisting in the smooth functioning of an institution they don’t believe in? If a house divided against itself must fall how long before a bitterly rancorous House falls apart and brings the Senate tumbling down with it?
- Let’s Just Say It: Republicans Are the Problem… (educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com)
- It’s true. The GOP is radical to the point of sickness. (warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com)
- The big-talk, no-action Congress – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Dick Lugar and the Right’s Men Overboard (esquire.com)
If I wanted to waste the time, I could fill up my blog with posts of nothing but updates of the Stupid Stuff Black Conservatives Say.
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla): “You have this 21st-century plantation that has been out there, where the Democrat Party has forever taken the black vote for granted. And you have established certain black leaders, who are nothing more than the overseers of that plantation. And now the people on that plantation are upset, because they have been disregarded, disrespected, and their concerns are not cared about.”
“So I’m here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman, to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad, away from that plantation into a sense of sensibility.”
Star Parker: Our black president is a traitor to his race. Our struggles put him in power and now he’s not taking care of his folks.
Herman Cain: “I am an American Black Conservative, an ABC and proud of it! I won’t stay on the Democratic plantation like I’m supposed to.”
Jesse Lee Peterson: The NAACP is no different than the KKK in that the KKK harmed black Americans by their physical bodies, but the NAACP steals their hearts and minds and souls. And they kill black Americans by making black Americans or causing black Americans to hate their country, to hate what’s right, to depend on the government rather than depending on themselves.
I would be amused by a sellout like Allen West comparing himself to Harriet Tubman if I wasn’t so sickened by his fawning smooching of any White conservative ass in reach. West is the kind of happy house Negro whom if Harriet Tubman tried to show him the way to freedom he would go running in the other direction back to Massa’s loving arms and stinging whip.
But this is what ABC’s as Cain described his pathetic little clique of Negroes Behaving Foolishly specialize in. They make White conservatives feel good about themselves. They blame Black people for their sorry lot in lives and they love to talk about plantations and slavery. If any of them had been slaves they would have been up in the Big House hoping for Mister Charlie or Miss Ann to brush off some table scraps they could fight the dogs for.
Have you ever heard of “a beard” used as a slang term? It’s typically used by someone concealing their same-sex orientation by dating or even marrying someone of the opposite gender. Rock Hudson, Elton John and other gay men who were pretending they weren’t used women as their “beard.”
There are Black sellouts like Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain who proclaims, “To all of those people who say that the Tea Party is a racist organization, eat your words” who serve as “beards” to the White Far Right. The predominantly White and conservative types who make up the Tea Party eagerly seize upon the presence of the paltry few Blacks who agree with them to proclaim, “See, we can’t be racists. Herman Cain says we aren’t!”
This is essentially defending yourself from accusations of race-based bigotry by grasping for the thinnest of straws. You’re okay because a member of the minority your offending says you are. Opportunistic hustlers like Cain are happy to be bussed in, given a prominent speaking spot and paraded about as conspicuously as possible. Black folks at Tea Party protests are like the lone brother hangin’ out with his three or four White buddies in beer commercials.
American Black Conservatives love to thump their chests and boast how they are freed from “the Democratic planation.” Seems to me though all they’ve done is trade one Massa for another. They never question or challenge conservative orthodoxy. They simply parrot the same rhetoric as any other right-winger. Issues of race, poverty, unemployment or any other issue of concern to many African-Americans, never concerns them. So when someome like Star Parker calls President Obama a “traitor to his race” how can anyone take her seriously. All she does is sell-out and betray Black people as she panders to White conservatives.
Cain, West, Parker, Peterson and the rest of the Negro right-wingers rushing to give cover to the contemporary conservatives of the Tea Party are as important to them as the Black maids were to the White women of the segregated South. They are modern versions of ”The Help.”
Some people run for Congress because they want to do good things for their community. They want to roll up their sleeves and be busily about the business of the American people. They want to go to Washington and make a difference and try to make politics work a little better than it presently does.
Then you have guys like Allen West who go to Washington for a much different reason. They don’t believe government helps makes the lives of people better so they get elected and prove it.
West, whose name was floated by presidential candidate and political irrelevance Newt Gingrich as a potential vice-president, got pissy when he took exception to remarks made on the House floor by Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. West fired off a snarky e-mail to his Florida colleague.
From: Z112 West, Allen
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 04:48 PM
To: Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
Cc: McCarthy, Kevin; Blyth, Jonathan; Pelosi, Nancy; Cantor, Eric
Subject: Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman-Schultz
Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional ,and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!
I am bringing your actions today to our Majority Leader and Majority Whip and from this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior……which dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign hqs, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.
You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Steadfast and Loyal
Congressman Allen B West (R-FL)
Here’s the video of Wasserman-Schultz’s remarks that set West off. At no point does she name West, but he was angered nonetheless.
It that’s what set off West so much to declare Wasserman-Schultz as “vile”, “despicable”, “a coward” and “unprofessional” he’s a thin-skinned punk. He says Wasserman-Schultz isn’t a lady? What kind of man are you Al to send off a whinygram to House leaders instead of confronting her personally with your complaints?
Apparently the former Army lieutenant colonel is an officer, but not a gentleman.
Even by right-wing troglodyte standards, West is a particularly nasty piece of work. He seems to go out of his way to belittle Democrats.
West goes out his way to be a dick. Such as when he ripped Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mn) as representing “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.” Ellison is a practicing Muslim.
PERITZ: Since you’re with a new crowd, people you haven’t really met before, and will be very closely associating with in the future, including Keith Ellison, who supports Islam, how will you manage that, if I may ask, because it’s not really easy to be polite with individuals one totally disagrees with, which I believe may be the case.
WEST: Well I think it’s most important that I stand upon the principles that people elected me to go to Washington, DC and represent them on Capitol Hill. So that when you run into someone that is counter, or someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established, you’ve got to be able to defeat them intellectually in debate and discourse, and you to just have to be able to challenge each and every one of their assertions very wisely and very forthright.
Toss in West’s recent remark, ”I must confess when I see anyone with an Obama 2012 bumper sticker, I recognize them as a threat to the gene pool,” and you’ve got a guy who looks for new ways to be an asshole. Funny thing though…you don’t see West actually doing much since he’s been elected besides giving interviews and saying dumb things.
West reminds me why I got out of the military. The rigidity of thought and conformist mindset the armed forces instills tends to lead one down a path of conservatism, and extreme conservatism at that. I got out of the Air Force before I started voting Republican. West spent 18 years in the Army so his hawkish and far-right ideology doesn’t surprise me.
Every day West is a member of Congress is an embarrassment and since he may likely find himself running for reelection in a predominantly Democratic district, here’s hoping the dickish behavior of this two-legged infected pustule in Washington will be short-lived.