During my walk to pick up the kids from school my mind wandered, as it does, the most recurring theme of my wandering mind was US partisan politics. It boggles my mind why I am as obsessed as I am with American politics. I am a political animal, that is for damned sure.
A couple of things set me off this afternoon. The first was the mini-feud that has erupted between comedian/political satirist John Stewart and journalist/left wing high priestess Rachel Maddow. Here is the abridged version of this 'feud'; Stewart called out Maddow for her irresponsible comments on the heels of the disaster in Haiti. Maddow tried to score political points for her side, by taking a poke at the previous administration and their ineptitude in past natural disasters. Maddow may be speaking the truth, but Stewart's point, and I agree with him, was that now was not the time for partisan politics. Maddow and her minions are pissed, not only because Stewart (who everyone thought was the high priest of left wing) had the audacity to poke fun of one of his own, but also because he lumped her in with such luminaries as Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. Maddow and her raging left fans hate being the punchline of a late night joke. The poor serious things.
So that had me wondering about how fragile and humorless the left has become. Gone are the heady days when the left, powerless, had the perfect nemesis in George W. Bush. Back then poking political fun was almost too easy, hell it was expected. The left now find themselves in charge and quite frankly things are not going as well as expected. Their guy (he was mine as well), Obama, the once mighty beacon of hope and change. Has changed very little, his message of hope is now muddled and is fading fast. But how dare a political satirist poke fun at them. I mean really, this is the left, the left is beyond reproach, right?
I now had about ten minutes to kill before the kids were off school. So to kill time I began thinking about the Massachusetts senate seat left open because of the death of Ted Kennedy. The political punditry in the US (which outnumber its citizenry, I swear) are all aflutter. This senate seat should be a gimme for the Democrats. This is Kennedy country, give the seat to the Democrat challenger already. But wait, the Democrat challenger Martha Coakley has made a whole series of political gaffs, the worst being her proclamation that former Red Sox picture and World Series hero Kurt Schilling was probably a Yankee fan, d'oh! Gaffs like that have allowed the sexy Republican challenger Scott Brown to build momentum and take a lead in the polls. The polls now closed, I am told it's still too close to call. But the political punditry see this (no matter who wins at this point) as a referendum on health care, the first true test of the political waters for the Obama Administration, proof that the Democrats are losing hearts and minds, a sign that Obama will only be a one term President, the sky is falling, Massachusetts is the canary in the coal mine. Ye gods, what would Teddy think?
If the Democrats lose in Massachusetts it means they no longer have a super majority in the Senate. Which sucks, sure, but it's one seat, one, that's it. The symbolism of the Democrats losing Teddy Kennedy's senate seat stinks, yes, but let me repeat my previous point, it is one bloody seat. How is it that the Bush Administration governed for 8 years with nowhere near the majority numbers that the Obama Administration has and yet was able to bully any damned piece of legislation through both Houses without even breaking a sweat? Are Fox News and the religious right really all that powerful? Does the minority truly rule?
Which lead me to think that the Republicans for whatever reason, blindly follow their leader, no matter how ugly it gets. Whereas the Democrats seem incapable of following their leaders. Instead the Democrats seem obsessed with the idea of bipartisanship. Instead of producing legislation that is representative of their party or any sort of liberal movement, the Democrats are forced to produce legislation that is bogged down, filled with capitulations towards the far right and the conservatives within their own party. The healthcare reform bill is a prime example of that point. The Democrats are incapable any sort of liberal agenda because they are too afraid the Republicans across the floor might yell boo.
So where was I? Oh yes, I was madly pounding keys on my cellphone. Not only because I like to pretend I am text messaging in order to avoid eye contact and awkward conversations with the other waiting parents. But also because this idea popped into my head; The Left & Right are so focused on disdain for the other side, that they are incapable of holding their own side accountable. I believe this to be true. Especially in American politics, where there truly are only two parties. One representing the right (the Republicans, well duh) and one representing the left (the Democrats, double duh). And so it is that each side spends the majority of its time not rebutting political ideas or debating important pieces of new legislation. No that's not how politics works in the world's most successful democracy. Politics is a pissing match between two very abstract notions. The conservative right versus the liberal left. In the end it is all hogwash, because the status quo remains no matter the administration, no matter the party in power. America is a center right country, it will be governed thusly. Forget hope, never you mind change.