ChrisWeigant.com

Please support ChrisWeigant.com this
holiday season!

Friday Talking Points [86] -- Obama Warms Up In The Bullpen

[ Posted Friday, July 17th, 2009 – 18:21 PDT ]

Much to the dismay of just about everyone who breathlessly follows politics, the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor turned out to be mostly a snoozer. Web sites (left and right) were liveblogging and Twittering like crazy all week, and the upshot was: "It's a foregone conclusion, she will be confirmed." Which everyone knew already, at the beginning of the week. But it didn't stop the breathlessness online.

The only real question in the hearings was how large a foot Republicans were going to insert into their collective mouth. The answer: medium-sized. Republicans on the Senate committee had a tightrope to walk this week, and the only drama was whether they would fall into the net of public yawns, or plummet to being the "Permanent Minority Party -- And Definitely Not THAT Kind Of Minority, Thank You Very Much." Republicans, you see, live in a world called "the 1950s." They must have all brightened up considerably when Sotomayor herself brought up Perry Mason (which caused the historic First Official Senatorial Joke to be uttered by Al Franken, it should be noted for posterity's sake). The geezers must have thought, "Perry Mason! Finally.... finally... a cultural reference I understand!!"

Unfortunately, this caused one of them to short-circuit a bit, and he tossed in what he obviously thought was a witty pop culture reference to the only Latino he was aware of -- Ricky Ricardo. Seriously, guys, I Love Lucy was on television a half-century ago. "You got some splainin' to do" is not exactly relevant, and not exactly funny. That whole "making fun of stereotypes of minorities" thing was a laugh riot in the 1950s, and sold a lot of Brylcreem and Burma Shave, but it's considered gauche in today's world. Just for your information.

Because, you see, there's a wonderful new political science called "demographics" in today's world. Let's just take a peek at what Mr. Demographics has to say, shall we? "Latinos don't like stupid stereotypes from the 1950s." Wow! What a pearl of wisdom! What other wise words do demographics have to say? "Latinos pay attention when you insult them, and they remember who insulted them when they vote." Wait, you mean -- unlike most Americans -- their attention span is longer than back to what Letterman said last week? What a stunner! Any final words from the demographics? "Latinos are the future of electoral politics in America -- lose them and you will die as a political party." Looks like the memos that the Republicans have been ignoring are certainly piling up in the old "IN" basket, doesn't it?

But seriously, I mostly didn't pay close (and breathless!) attention to the hearings this week because, as I said, unless Sotomayor started shooting Republican Senators dead (something she was actually politely discussing with Senator Tom Coburn when he began channeling the ghost of Ricky Ricardo -- you just can't make this stuff up), the confirmation hearings were nothing more than a formality. The question of how many Republicans will actually vote for her is still open, but the question of whether she's going to be our next Supreme Court Justice is simply not.

So, as the Republican Party sinks slowly in the South, we move on to more pressing business -- our weekly awards!

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

That's actually a pretty good line -- "as the Republican Party sinks slowly in the South" -- I think I should start using it more often.

Ahem.

Sorry about that. Where were we? Awards! There was actually a lot of action in Washington this week, as Congress scurries to actually do something the private sector calls "get some actual work done" so that it can (whew!) take a five-week break next month. But dominating all else was healthcare reform, as this is the crunch time. What happens in D.C. in the next three weeks may determine if healthcare reform passes this year, and -- more importantly -- if it will actually do anything, or just publish "tomorrow's deck chair arrangement" for all the passengers on the good ship "Titanic Waste Of Time."

Progress is being made, I am happy to report. Or, as Sarah Palin would say, "Congress is doin' that progressin', and also progressifyin' the progressional nature of healthcare reform." Ahem.

But not to get sidetracked! Actually, that is the main goal right now for Congress as well -- not to get sidetracked. Thankfully, three-fifths of the committees responsible have actually passed legislation, which is where we find our Most Impressive Democrats Of The Week this week.

But first, an Honorable Mention simply must be given to Pat Leahy, the Senate chairman responsible for moving Sotomayor's confirmation along on schedule. If you'll remember, Republicans tried the tactic of "delay, delay, delay" on the hearings. A while back, Leahy shot them down and went ahead and scheduled the hearings anyway, so the floor vote could happen before the August break. He kept to his schedule, and deserves commendation for doing so. Harry Reid could learn a few things from Leahy about ignoring the slings and arrows of outrageous Republican obstructionism, that's for sure.

But this week's MIDOTW awards go out to Senator Chris Dodd, and Representatives George Miller and Charlie Rangel, for all getting healthcare bills voted out of the committees they chair. In Miller and Rangel's case, it was the same bill.

Now, in the larger scene of sausage-making in D.C., this may not sound very impressive, so let's put it in a bit of context. Bill Clinton didn't get this far. Clinton's healthcare reform never made it out of committee. And, even more astounding, the three House chairmen responsible for healthcare bills got together long ago and worked on a single bill to speed the process up. The committee chairs, by doing so, gave up some of their feudal "it's my committee, dammit!" powers, which is virtually unheard of in Washington. So, while we're not out of the woods yet by far (see next section), we've come a long way, baby.

And what the heck, I'll hand out another Honorable Mention to the third House chair, who faces a stiffer fight in his committee (due to an infestation of Blue Dogs), Henry Waxman. Waxman will have a fight on his hands next week as his committee tackles the bill, but he deserves credit so far for being part of the effort in the House to get together on one bill instead of three.

So congratulate Senator Dodd (who, it should be noted, is standing in for Teddy Kennedy, who is the actual chair of the Senate committee, but who has been sidelined due to continuing health problems), and Representatives Miller and Rangel, for earning this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award by actually getting bills voted out of committee that included a public option.

[Congratulate Senator Chris Dodd on his Senate contact page, Representative George Miller on his House contact page, and Representative Charlie Rangel on his House contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

While the House is showing how the legislative process can be streamlined to the point of actually achieving results (gasp!), over in the Senate it is, sadly, business as usual.

The "Gang of Six" in the Senate (aside: what is with all the "gangs" on Capitol Hill anyway? Insert your own West Side Story joke here, I guess, in the spirit of everyone else doing so this week...) is a group of what the media will no doubt label "moderates," who apparently woke up this week and discovered that they were in imminent peril of seeing actual reform pass.

"Well," they said in unison to themselves, "we certainly can't have any of that around here." Because, as far as they are concerned, the longstanding Senate tradition is to make a lot of smoke and noise about reforming healthcare, hold some hearings, get everyone all emotional, and then conveniently run out the clock -- until they shake their heads sadly in December and tell their constituents: "We really tried... maybe next year... oh, and don't forget to reelect me."

As I said, this is a tradition. They've been doing this dance for decades.

The facts speak for themselves. While Kennedy's committee (led by Chris Dodd due to Kennedy's absence) successfully passed a bill this week, Max Baucus' committee did not. President Obama himself started to get a little exasperated with Baucus this week, and is starting to put the pressure on him to get his work done by the August break. Baucus is pushing back with all he's got. According to him (and virtually no one else), it's all about the bipartisanship of the bill, not whether it works or actually gets passed. It's got to be all bipartisanshippy, you see -- that's the main thing. Even Obama, who sees himself as captain of the Bipartisan Ship Of State at times, has had enough of this bushwah, and is banging a calendar over some Democratic heads in frustration.

Today, the pushback came. Six senators have sent a letter which begs for more time -- two or three months would work for them -- to chase the red herring of bipartisanship down the rabbit hole of obstructionism (OK, that metaphor was too twisted even for me, sorry, it won't happen again).

Two of these senators are the most moderate Republicans left standing, the ladies from Maine. One is perennial fly-in-the-Democrats'-ointment Joe Lieberman. But three of the signatories to this letter are card-carrying Democrats: Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. And they are all hereby awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week for their foolishness.

And, because a commenter a few weeks ago asked for more specific information on the link between healthcare lobbying dollars and these usual suspects, I have to include an excerpt from an excellent article by fellow Huffington Post blogger Paul Blumenthal here, where he calculates what the 70 extra days they're asking for mean, in lobbying-world terms:

Sen. Mary Landrieu raised $1,676,353 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of her career. Her first day in office was January 7, 1997. In total, she has served 4,574 days as a United States Senator. This calculates out to her raising $366.50 every day from the health and insurance sectors. Seventy more days would yield $25,655.

Sen. Joe Lieberman raised $3,593,771 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of his career. His first day in office, as a senator, was January 3, 1989. In total, he has served 7,136 days as a United States Senator. This works out to him raising $504 a day from the health and insurance sectors. Seventy more days would yield $35,280.

Sen. Ben Nelson raised $2,257,165 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of his career. His first day in office, as a senator, was January 3, 2001. In total, he has served 3,118 days as a United States Senator. This works out to him raising $724 a day from the health and insurance sectors. Seventy more days would yield $50,680.

. . .

Sen. Ron Wyden raised $1,414,911 from the health and insurance sectors over the course of his career. His first day in office, as a senator, was February 6, 1996. In total, he has served 4,911 days as a United States Senator. This works out to $288 every day from the health and insurance sectors. Seventy more days would yield $20,160.

So, a (Dis-)Honorable Mention to chairman Max Baucus (who probably didn't want to sign the letter because he's chair of the committee, but who also definitely agrees with the "let's give it a few more months" nonsense), and a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week (with special "roadblock clusters" for sheer obstructionism) goes out to Senators Landrieu, Lieberman (I know he's not a Democrat, but we just can't seem to stop giving him MDDOTW awards for some reason), Nelson, and Wyden. If you can't lead, senators, at least have the decency to get out of the way. Hmmph.

[Contact Senator Mary Landrieu on her Senate contact page, Senator Joe Lieberman on his Senate contact page, Senator Ben Nelson on his Senate contact page, and Senator Ron Wyden on his Senate contact page, to let them know what you think of their actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 86 (7/17/09)

President Barack Obama, in baseball terms, is a good "closer." He sees himself as the pitcher who comes on in the later innings of a close game, and saves the team at the last minute. This, as evidenced by his bully-pulpit-ing so far, is Obama's style.

And this week, he started warming up in the bullpen. He has not quite hit his stride on healthcare, but he is definitely getting there. He came back from an overseas trip and apparently took a look at cable television, which was running with the story (for only the 78th time this year) "healthcare legislation looks dead, folks!" Obama realized he needed to get back in the game, and has started ramping up a more visible presence on the issue. The first thing he did, after reading my column last week (ahem), was to "show some steel" to Congress and threaten to not let them go off on vacation unless they get their homework handed in on time. But this big stick was spoken of softly. So far.

People who live outside the Beltway may not realize this, but this is the most effective threat to hold over any Congresscritter's head: "you may be forced to stay in Washington during August!" Spend the month in D.C. and you will quickly see why this threat carries so much weight (weather report for the entire month: 95 degrees, 95 percent humidity). The specter of working in a dark three-piece-suit through this part of the year causes a case of the screaming meemies to politicians. So it's a bigger stick than you might think.

Obama kind-of-sort-of took Max Baucus out to the woodshed as well this week, and also unveiled an ad chock full of healthcare horror stories, which will run in wavering Democrats' home districts. This is also effective, no matter what Harry Reid thinks about it.

But Obama's real strength this week was beginning to get his message out from that famous bully pulpit. The message itself needs a little refining, but it's a good start. Obama has made two statements in the past few days (one with nurses at his side, and one more sweeping statement today), and he has announced he'll be giving a high-profile press conference next week as well, right in the thick of the fight in the two remaining congressional committees.

Democrats, in general, need to stop with the wonk-speak, and start using better framing on the issue. Obama made some steps in this direction, which I'd like to point out here, for other Democrats to consider.

Because, out in the real world, "single-payer" and "public plan" and "co-op" and all the rest of the wonkitude is largely ignored. What normal Americans want to know is, quite simply: How will this make my life better?

And this question, insanely enough, largely remains unanswered by most Democrats you see being interviewed by the media. Which is just stupid, because this is where the battle can be won (and lost, for that matter).

So here are today's Friday Talking Points, where we build upon Obama's words. All talking points are direct Obama quotes, from the two links above.

 

1
   Define the problem

After a charming and very human story praising the nurses he met when his children were born (and -- one assumes much to the dismay of the First Children -- spoke of them as "a couple of fat little babies"), Obama put things in terms the average American can relate to beautifully. This drum needs a lot more beating. It's a big drum, and it has prominently painted on the side of it: "The status quo sucks, and we know it." Republicans scoff at these heartrending stories at their peril, because the Republican dogma of "if you're poor (or, in this case, sick), it's your fault" is just not going to fly this time. Because even Republican voters face these problems on a daily basis.

"And that's why it's safe to say that few understand why we have to pass reform as intimately as our nation's nurses. They see firsthand the heartbreaking costs of our health care crisis. They hear the same stories that I've heard across this country -- of treatment deferred or coverage denied by insurance companies; of insurance premiums and prescriptions that are so expensive they consume a family's entire budget; of Americans forced to use the emergency room for something as simple as a sore throat just because they can't afford to see a doctor."

 

2
   Define the status quo

This is going to be more and more effective, since the Republicans quite obviously have no ideas of their own. They have painted themselves into the corner of defending the status quo, and even though they don't seem to realize it, it's a pretty bad corner to be in.

"And they understand that this is a problem that we can no longer defer. We can't kick the can down the road any longer. Deferring reform is nothing more than defending the status quo -- and those who would oppose our efforts should take a hard look at just what it is that they're defending. Over the last decade, health insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing. And every single day we wait to act, thousands of Americans lose their insurance, some turning to nurses in emergency rooms as their only recourse."

 

3
   Defense of the status quo is not acceptable

Keep hitting this same theme in different ways, as it is the Democrats' best argument -- something must be done!

"Now, I realize that the last few miles of any race are the hardest to run, but I have to say now is not the time to slow down, and now is certainly not the time to lose heart. Make no mistake, if we step back from this challenge at this moment, we are consigning our children to a future of skyrocketing premiums and crushing deficits. There's no argument about that.

"If we don't achieve health care reform, we cannot control the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and we cannot control our long-term debt and our long-term deficits. That's not in dispute. So we're going to have to get this done.

"If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure, because you're going to continue to see premiums going up at astronomical rates, out-of-pocket costs going up at astronomical rates, and people who lose their jobs or have a preexisting medical condition or changing their jobs finding themselves in a situation where they cannot get health care.

"And that's not a future that I accept for the United States of America. That's why those who are betting against this happening this year are badly mistaken.

"We are going to get this done. We will reform health care. It will happen this year. I'm absolutely convinced of that."

 

4
   Reassure Middle America

Obama has been saying this all along, but there's a reason why it needs repeating so often -- so everyone will hear it eventually. Middle America needs to be reassured that things are going to get better, and if you like what you've got, you can keep it.

"I know a lot of Americans who are satisfied with their health care right now are wondering what reform would mean for them, so let me be clear: If you like your doctor or health care provider, you can keep them. If you like your health care plan, you can keep that too.

"But here's what else reform will mean for you -- and this is for people who have health insurance: You will save money. If you lose your job, change your job, or start a new business, you'll still be able to find quality health insurance that you can afford. If you have a preexisting medical condition, no insurance company will be able to deny you coverage. You won't have to worry about being priced out of the market. You won't have to worry about one illness leading your family into financial ruin. That's what reform means, not just for the uninsured but for the people who have health insurance right now."

 

5
   Define the solution

This, again, is something Democrats just have not said effectively yet. This section had to be edited for length, Obama goes through a laundry list of things that Congress has already largely agreed to, and is well worth reading to see the full list. But the key word is YOU. YOU will get this or that, YOU will have choices, YOU will pay less, YOU will not have to go bankrupt if YOU get sick. This directly-targeted marketing needs to be the center argument of every Democrat. Put yourselves in the voters' shoes. Try to see things the way they do on healthcare. Talk about actual, concrete things (bad and good) that American families experience and worry about. You've got to reach your audience, and I've been simply astonished at the Democrats seeming inability to make such simple points in this debate.

"So this is what health insurance reform will mean for the average American. It will mean lower costs, more choices and coverage you can count on. It will save you and your family money.

"You won't have to worry about being priced out of the market. You won't have to worry about one illness leading to your family going into financial ruin.

"Americans will have coverage that finally has stability and security, and Americans who don't have health insurance will finally have affordable quality options.

"These are the areas where we agree right now. And this consensus has brought us closer to the goal of health insurance reform than ever before. "

 

6
   Define the goals

Obama is talking here about the two bills (House and Senate) that have passed committees so far. He (and other Democrats) need to explain why what Democrats are fighting for is a good thing, and not merely some catchphrase the media and the politicians are batting around.

"Both proposals will take what's best about our system today and make it the basis for our system tomorrow -- reducing costs, raising quality, and ensuring fair treatment of consumers by the insurance industry. Both include a health insurance exchange, a marketplace that will allow families and small businesses to compare prices, services, and the quality, so they can choose the plan that best suits their needs. And among the choices available would be a public health insurance option that would make health care more affordable by increasing competition, providing more choices, and keeping insurance companies honest. Both proposals will offer stability and security to Americans who have coverage today, and affordable options to those who don't."

 

7
   Drive it home

Paint the entire issue, over and over again, as critical for the future of America. This is not cynical, as it truly is a foundational problem which will collapse our economy if not changed. So throw in some high-falutin' language at the end, just to remind everyone of the magnitude of the challenge we face.

"Our nurses are on board. The American people are on board. It's now up to us. We can do what we've done for so long and defer tough decisions for another day -- or we can step up and meet our responsibilities. In other words, we can lead. We can look beyond the next news cycle and the next election to the next generation, and come together to build a system that works not just for these nurses, but for the patients they care for; for doctors and hospitals; for families and businesses -- and for our very future as a nation."

 

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

23 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [86] -- Obama Warms Up In The Bullpen”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here's hoping for all the best in getting effective healthcare reform passed, once and for all...from a northern friend.

    I just hope against hope that you won't end up with anything remotely resembling the completely wretched system we Canadians have had to endure. I mean, our government run healthcare system is killing us up here.

    And, as for twisted metaphors... "to chase the red herring of bipartisanship down the rabbit hole of obstructionism..." ...that was the gold standard, if ever there was one! I hope to make good use of any number of variants on the theme...with proper attribution, of course. :-)

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Elizabeth -

    So what did you think of "as the Republican Party sinks slowly in the South"?

    :-)

    -CW

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Thinking about all that may be implied by that quote is somewhat dizzying, I must admit.

    And, so...suffice to say that I would heartily agree that it is actually a pretty good line and that you should start using it more often.

    :-)

  4. [4] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    "As the Republican Party sinks slowly in the South" -- yes, that's a very good one.

  5. [5] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Thanks, guys!

    I'm really not just milking it, I just had to stop today when I was editing what I wrote and say "that works on a lot of levels." Sometimes I surprise myself...

    But the triple-back-flip gold standard (at least for me) in this department was the sign posted on a steep curve on the driveway to Ken Kesey's house (author of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and known associate of very early era hippies):

    "No left turn unstoned."

    Just on a linguistic level alone, of course, it's hard to beat that.

    Heh.

    -CW

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Seriously, guys, I Love Lucy was on television a half-century ago.

    So, let me see if I got this right.

    It's NOT OK for a Republican to channel Ricky Ricardo because it was 50 years ago... (58 years to be exact.)

    But....

    It *IS* OK for a Democrat (wait... TWO Democrats) to "channel" Perry Mason even though it was 50 years ago as well. (52 years to be exact)

    Gotcha... wink, wink... :D

    On the other hand, your comment could have meant to say that ethno-centric humor is 50 years out of date. I don't think it was, as you mentioned "on television". But if it were then I would completely agree with you. In this hysterical politically correct morass of a world we find ourselves in, heaven forbid that we should find something humorous is actually funny...

    Go figger... :D

    That's actually a pretty good line — "as the Republican Party sinks slowly in the South" — I think I should start using it more often.

    That's actually a great line.. I bet you can use it often.. :D Right up to the point that the GOP wins back control of Congress.. So, that means you should get about 15 more months use out of it. :D

    Seriously, though. It IS a great line. It works on many different levels...

    The "Gang of Six" in the Senate (aside: what is with all the "gangs" on Capitol Hill anyway? Insert your own West Side Story joke here, I guess, in the spirit of everyone else doing so this week…)

    Yea, I get the same feeling when I read about all the Czars that are being created.. Being inspired by President Obama, I just assigned my daughter to be "Potty Czar" over my 7 month old grandson.. :D

    Baucus is pushing back with all he's got. According to him (and virtually no one else), it's all about the bipartisanship of the bill, not whether it works or actually gets passed.

    Actually, from what I have read, bipartisanship is no longer a factor.. Democrats are busy doing to Republicans exactly what Democrats whined and cried about when Republicans did it to Democrats..

    Is being a complete hypocrite a Congressional Job Requirement?? I'm just sayin'.....

    But I digest...

    The problem Baucus has with the Health Care Plan (see http://anything-goes.us/temp/hcp.gif for a graphical representation of the plan) is that it costs over a TRILLION dollars (let me spell that out for the cheap seats... over 1,000,000,000,000 dollars).

    This is in ADDITION to the existing deficit that has ALSO passed the 1,000,000,000,000 dollar mark.

    With apologies to Liz (Sorry, I can't help myself!!) Joe Biden summed up the administration mentality perfectly..

    "We have to keep spending money or we'll go bankrupt!!"

    What a crazy country this has become, eh??

    I have only one specific nitpick on your Talking Points..

    Defense of the status quo is not acceptible

    Fire your spell checker... Unless, of course, your spell checker is Mrs CW.. Then, again of course, it's all your fault she missed it. You rushed her, you bothered her, you didn't pay enough attention to her and this is her revenge... or any combination thereof. :D

    The proper spelling is acceptable

    As to my general response to all of your talking points, it's easy..

    Yes, the current health care program needs help.. Yes, it's heading for a cliff...

    But the Democrats plan will fix NOTHING and screw things up even WORSE...

    You can look at all the charts and all the PDFs and all the graphs and all the JPGs you want, but the best plan is simple...

    DOCTORPATIENT

    THERE...

    THAT is the best plan...

    But, of course, that plan does NOTHING to help the politicians or the lobbyists or the corporations...

    Which is why no one will propose such a plan.

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Grrrrrrr

    My "plan" didn't make the Blog translation...

    DOCTOR {=======} PATIENT

    Yes, the "Status Quo" is unacceptable...

    But, if it's a choice between the Status Quo and a plan that solves NO problems and makes existing problems worse, then the Status Quo is the best option.

    It's as simple a choice as the choice between the Devil you know and the Devil you don't know.

    I just hope against hope that you won't end up with anything remotely resembling the completely wretched system we Canadians have had to endure. I mean, our government run healthcare system is killing us up here.

    I am actually quite surprised.. Proponents of the Health Care Plan point to Canada as a shining example of how socialized health care can work.

    Liz, are you saying it DOESN'T work??

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    One also has to keep in mind that this Administration swore up and down that we MUST pass this second stimulus package or else Unemployment would rise above 8%...

    Get that??

    If the second Porkulus Package did not pass, Unemployment would rise above 8%!!!

    Guess what??

    The second Porkulus DID pass and Unemployment has risen to 9.4%...

    hmmmmmmmmm

    Credibility is becoming a factor here...

    Michale.....

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    My apologies for monopolizing the thread so much. There are just so many good points to make!! :D

    This particular one is sooo good (chilling, in fact), I am forced to post it in it's entirety...

    As an aside to CW, if you feel there are any copyright issues, please delete this comment..

    What Would Our Forefathers Think of America Today?
    Janine Turner

    I have a fantasy.

    It's fascinating. It's futuristic. It's foretelling.

    My fantasy is that our country's forefathers would miraculously appear today in America. I see them walking among us, dressed in velvet coats and knee pants, hair in a pony tails, hats in hand. Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. Alexander Hamilton on Wall Street. John Adams in Boston. Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. And, George Washington in Washington.

    I envision it theatrically, of course, with cameras. A panoramic sweep as they turn full circle in awe. What would they think? Would they be proud? Would they be shocked? I, for one, want them desperately to be pleased.

    This is an idea that has fascinated me for decades. I can remember asking my father about it when I was nine: "Dad, what would our forefathers think of America if they returned today? About what would they be most disappointed?"

    My father, who is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a man of few words, thought for a moment and simply said, "taxes."

    What would our forefathers think of us today? I yearn for their wisdom. I believe, if they roamed the halls of Congress together and eavesdropped on the conversations, heard the rancor, felt the division, they would say, or at least Thomas Jefferson would say, "Ah, democracy at work." However, upon further investigation their impressions would sour. They would accurately perceive that the tenor has changed.

    During their day, they too differed and fought. They were, at times, wickedly vicious -- but it was for Americans. They believed that God wove an innate promise in human beings and they envisioned the infinite possibilities of the mind and soul if freed from tyrannical government. They ardently loved America. Their purpose was for America to be born, to blossom and to be the hope of mankind. They took pride in their remarkable achievements. They believed that their victory over the British and the success in uniting their fledgling country's passionate diversities as they constructed and ratified the Constitution, were the works of "Divine Providence."

    Brilliant and well read as they were, they would quickly surmise the threats to America. Alarmed by the bitter greed, they would stand at the pulpit of Congress and pound the gavel and say, "Awaken Patriots. Awaken your sense of unity! A Congress divided, for the sake of pride, will most certainly fall. A Congress that betrays its constituents, for the sake of party line, will most assuredly falter. A Congress that bloats bills to the point of obscene obscurity will be condemned." They would be astounded by a Congress that does not read its own works and warn, "A Congress that cannot or will not read the bills before they vote, before they represent the American people, will, without fail, lead their country and its people to doom."

    When they realize C-SPAN is there, and they would adeptly figure this out, they would look into the camera and warn the American people. They would warn parents that by neglecting to teach their children their rights as embodied in the Constitution as well as the inherent responsibilities of citizenship, they will let America simply slip away. Thomas Jefferson would recount his own words, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." They would warn, "It won't be sudden. It will be insidious. Those who devalue freedom, who underestimate human genius, integrity and industriousness, will cunningly dominate the debate."

    Benjamin Franklin would recount his own words, "Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty." They would say, "By letting Congress bankrupt your country, you most assuredly will lose your freedom, your free will. By letting Congress take away your right to own a gun, you will let a dictator seize your country and your home, because he will encounter no resistance." They would quote Samuel Adams' wisdom, "Be forewarned, the pooling of property and the redistributing of wealth are despotic and unconstitutional."

    They would close with biting truths saying, "Without moral values, which should begin in Congress, America will lose her roots, her basis, her thesis." They would echo Paul Revere and cry out, "Stand up, Americans. The challenge is coming! The challenge is coming! Let freedom continue to ring!" They would exit Congress and they would not be downtrodden. A smile would emanate from their faces, for they know the heart of Americans.

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/07/16/janine-turner-fathers/

  10. [10] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Sounds about right for fox news...

    One thing I have noticed about the founding fathers is they did not speak with one voice. Not even remotely close to one voice.

    They also flirted with central banking in order to pay off huge debts incurred during the Revolutionary War. Funny, but this nation was created with a fairly large national debt...

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    One thing I have noticed about the founding fathers is they did not speak with one voice. Not even remotely close to one voice.

    And yet, this country was created....

    Funny how the Left is always invoking the imagery of the "Founding Fathers"...

    Except, of course, when it doesn't fit their myopic view of the world...

    Of course, the Right also has those same myopic tendencies.... Which is why I am so glad that I am a political agnostic..

    They also flirted with central banking in order to pay off huge debts incurred during the Revolutionary War.

    And they discarded the notion...

    Why do you think that is???

    Funny, but this nation was created with a fairly large national debt…

    Cite?? References??

    The problem in the here and now is not one of national debt. The problem in the here and now is that the national debt is acknowledged and is being actively grown to monumental and unheard of proportions..

    Tell me... Do you (does ANYONE) see the inherent illogic in actively, aggressively and artificially making the current debt grow larger and larger??

    Do you (does ANYONE) see the inherent illogic in the concept of spending (and borrowing) money to temporarily stave off bankruptcy??

    Am I REALLY the ONLY ONE here that sees what a fallacy such a proposal really is??

    Is everyone so blinded by partisan and political bigotry that they are so willing to be Louise to the administration's Thelma???

    Honestly??

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sounds about right for fox news…

    Really???

    Which part??

    The part that condemns Congress for not even READING the bills that they vote on??

    Or the part about Congress bloating bills beyond all recognition or respectability..

    Is that "about right" for Fox News??

    Or maybe it's simply the facts of the here and now?

    I am STILL flabbergasted that people are so blase about their Democrats in Congress that are passing bills left and right that are not even being READ!!!

    Doesn't that BOTHER any one???

    Ahhh I see.. It's much easier and much more comfortable to simply wallow in the dark dank pit of political bigotry and ignore the facts...

    "What?? That oncoming light at the end of the tunnel?? I am sure it's not an oncoming train... Would you like to wallow in some more mud-slinging???"

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Imagine the hysterical outcry from the Left if it had become common knowledge that all of our CongressCritters had passed the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and the updated FISA act, all without even reading the bills.

    The Left would have gone absolutely berserk and rightly so.

    Does anyone deny this?

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    "Imagine the hysterical outcry from the Left if it had become common knowledge that all of our CongressCritters had passed the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act and the updated FISA act, all without even reading the bills."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zf2nCiBJLo

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    You give me a Michael Moore propaganda film?? That's your "Hysterical Outcry"???

    What's next??

    "Proof" positive that Bush was the diabolical mastermind that actually committed the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in collusion with the Israeli Mossad and the Girl Scouts??

    Do you have ANY substantiated proof to support your (apparent) assertion that Republicans, as a whole, did not read any of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions act or the FISA Updates??

    ANY proof beyond the blowhard hysterical rantings of Michael Moore??

    Any?? Any?? Buehler??

    Regardless of all that, it appears you are saying that you don't mind that Congress doesn't read any of the bills that they pass as long as Democrats are in charge...

    How is this not political bigotry??

    Michale.....

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    White House putting off release of budget update

    Jul 20, 6:20 AM (ET)

    By TOM RAUM

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.

    The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress.

    The release of the update - usually scheduled for mid-July - has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town on its August 7 summer recess.

    http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090720/D99I4A0G0.html

  17. [17] 
    Osborne Ink wrote:

    Chris:

    "Imagine the hysterical outcry from the Left if it had become common knowledge"

    It WAS common knowledge. We WERE upset. We DID outcry. I personally wrote my representative, both senators, the White House, and the local newspaper. Along with others, I spoke out against it at a rally about 17 months before Moore's film hit theatres.

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Somehow, during a previous editing session, I accepted the wrong spelling into my spell checker. I'm trying to figure out how to delete the incorrect spelling from my Word dictionary, but I have corrected it in the article -- thanks for the eagle eye!

    As for the essay you posted, the Founding Fathers would be horrified that we have a standing military and political parties. They believed both were anathema to freedom. And our country started out deep in debt, so that's nothing new (had to pay for that war somehow).

    As for the reading the bills thing, I've said this before: nobody reads bills on Capitol Hill, no matter WHICH party is in charge. I know, the Republicans are using it as a clever talking point, but it's complete moose poop. See if anybody railing about not reading bills can swear to the following statement: "When my party was in control of Congress, I read every significant piece of legislation I voted on." THEY CAN'T SAY THIS, at least not with a straight face. It is nothing more than political posturing. Rail against the practice if you'd like, but don't try to blame it on one party. Because they ALL do it -- that's what they have staffs for.

    BashiBazouk -

    Thanks, you made the point about the Founding Fathers better (going through these one by one here).

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    @OsborneInk

    It WAS common knowledge. We WERE upset. We DID outcry. I personally wrote my representative, both senators, the White House, and the local newspaper. Along with others, I spoke out against it at a rally about 17 months before Moore's film hit theatres.

    Do you have any PROOF of your accusation?? Not hysterical Bush Bashing Michael Moore or Drama Queen Cindy Sheehan but real, unequivocal proof??

    And who is this "we"?? Do ya have a mouse in yer pocket?? :D

    Somehow, during a previous editing session, I accepted the wrong spelling into my spell checker. I'm trying to figure out how to delete the incorrect spelling from my Word dictionary, but I have corrected it in the article — thanks for the eagle eye!

    I can't believe I let loose with a {gag} spelling lame!! Spelling and Grammar lames are the lowest forms of debate. My apologies... :D

    As for the essay you posted, the Founding Fathers would be horrified that we have a standing military and political parties. They believed both were anathema to freedom. And our country started out deep in debt, so that's nothing new (had to pay for that war somehow).

    I agree with their notion of being horrified at Political Parties. I have expressed equal horror at the hysterical partisanship that borders on... No that CROSSES the border into blatant bigotry. As real, as hurtful and as insidious as racial bigotry. Any concept that DIVIDES Americans and pits one against the other is shameful and should not stand. The Civil War should have taught us THAT lesson. More Americans killed in the Civil War than in any war since COMBINED..

    But I am glad that the Founding Fathers came to their senses regarding a standing army. Had they note, the grand experiment that is the US of A would have withered and died long ago.

    As for the reading the bills thing, I've said this before: nobody reads bills on Capitol Hill, no matter WHICH party is in charge. I know, the Republicans are using it as a clever talking point, but it's complete moose poop. See if anybody railing about not reading bills can swear to the following statement: "When my party was in control of Congress, I read every significant piece of legislation I voted on." THEY CAN'T SAY THIS, at least not with a straight face. It is nothing more than political posturing. Rail against the practice if you'd like, but don't try to blame it on one party. Because they ALL do it — that's what they have staffs for.

    Moose poop?? Betcha been DYING to throw that in somewhere, eh? :D hehehehehe

    As for your point, yes... Republican AND Democrat
    CongressCritters probably don't read the bills themselves. Yes. They probably have staff that reads them and then sums them up for their respective critter.

    But MY point is that, in recent legislation, there hasn't even been time for the STAFF to read and sum up the bills. Legislation is finished and compiled to the tune of THOUSANDS of pages at 0300hrs and then voted on 5 or 6 HOURS later?? Whatever happened to the Obama pledge that ALL legislation would be posted to the web for at LEAST 48 hours before it was voted on? Not only is legislation NOT posted to the web AT ALL, but it is not even allowed to be READ by ***ANYONE***. CongressCritter OR staff..

    Now, you simply CANNOT tell me that *THAT* is "normal". I think we all agree that it is COMPLETELY unacceptable.

    I read an article about how the White House is complaining about all the negative press coming out about the HealthCare legislation. The White House is quoted as saying, "Congress AND the Public should just wait till the final legislation is released before commenting on it.." or words to that effect.

    We **CAN'T** wait for it to be release before being negative about it. Because with the underhanded way that Congress is ramming thru legislation these days, it's released and voted on before **ANYONE** has a chance to even read the damn thing.

    If ya'all were to really sit down and be honest with yourselves ya'all would agree that, had this type of governing been done under a Republican government, ya'all would be going ballistic. And RIGHTLY so...

    Yes. I agree.. CongressCritters who actually, themselves, do not read legislation is pretty much par for the course, regardless of Political Party. The practice of having one's staff read legislation and sum it up to CongressCritters is common practice. Agreed..

    But what is NOT par for the course, what is NOT common practice, what IS unusual and what IS completely contemptible and unacceptable is legislation that is voted on, having not been read by ANYONE at all, staff or what have you, and is compiled and collated in the dead of night to be voted on mere hours later. COMPLETELY and UNEQUIVOCALLY unknown by ANYONE, even the authors that penned the legislation.

    And once again, I am truly (seriously and honestly) amazed that I am the only one here who has a problem with this.

    What happened to "transparency"?? What happened to "piercing the veil"??

    Where is the change??

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    I got it!!!

    I figured it all out..

    On my way into work, I had an epiphany... Don't worry. It's not catching... :D

    I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out the blase' attitude that the Left have with regards to all the secrecy, lack of transparency and the complete and utter contempt that Congress has for actually READING (or having read to them) the legislation that they are voting on..

    But I think that I have figured it out.

    The Left have FINALLY come around to my way of thinking.

    The Left (as a whole) have finally accepted the idea that, our government was voted in, they are in a position to know things that we don't know and therefore they should just be left to their own devices and they will do what is best for us.

    In short, the Left now believes as I do. That we should just leave the government alone and let them do the jobs they were hired for.

    Congratulations and kudos for seeing the logic of the situation.

    Unfortunately, in THIS case, the logic of the situation leans in the OTHER direction. For many reasons. Well, for two reasons anyways...

    Regardless, it IS heartening to see one's philosophy so widely validated and accepted. :D

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I hope you're not saying that your work is done here. :D

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    I hope you're not saying that your work is done here. :D

    Ya'all should BE so lucky!! :D

    Though I probably should give ya'all a breather... I really don't want to wear out my welcome here... Too late!! :D

    So, maybe I should take it more easy and let other people have a chance to shine...

    Eh???

    Naaaaaawwwwwwwwwww.......... :D

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    As for the essay you posted, the Founding Fathers would be horrified that we have a standing military and political parties. They believed both were anathema to freedom. And our country started out deep in debt, so that's nothing new (had to pay for that war somehow).

    Personally, I think Alexander Hamilton would be tickled pink and gushing over the current USofA. The current state of the county, even under the current economic problems, would have vastly exceeded his wildest expectations. Of course this might not be viewed as a good thing by most the other founding fathers...

    Though most might not like the modern political party system, they would probably do so with a guilty conscience. They would see that they all sowed the seeds of political parties during the two decades that followed the revolutionary period.

Comments for this article are closed.