Assholes, Idiots, And Poopyheads

It's so painful following the so-called negotiations over the much-called fiscal cliff, that I don't think I can do it. What a bunch of disingenuous posturing self-indulgent borderline criminals. The whole bunch of them. Each side demanding the other makes the first move. Every participant heading for the cameras to condemn the other side. Cheerleaders from the sidelines and fringes, demanding no quarter, fanning the flames.

I'd say it's time to call in actual negotiators, arbitrators who've done tough ones, let them do what people actually do when they're trying to reach agreement: talk, listen, propose, counter, and do it behind closed doors and staying away from the limelight. Committed to doing something for the good of those whose future is at stake, rather than for their own preening and grandstanding.

Who do these people think they are? Really, it's a serious question. Do they see themselves as entrusted with the task of doing the country's business, or are they just a bunch of egoists bent on making the most noise, turning the greatest number of heads in their direction? These despicable souls are like the owners of a pro sports league and the players during a strike: strutting, calling the other side names, crying foul. Except that unlike those people, already more wealthy than fifty of us will ever be, are negotiating only for their own inflated self-interest; and the outcome has almost entirely esoteric impact.

Our elected representatives, on the other hand, have the future of hundreds of millions of people in their hands, and they act like it's just about themselves. And, of course, a handful of their biggest donors. I find it truly and deeply depressing. Appalling.

I just saw the movie "Lincoln." I thought it was pretty well-done, a little Spielbergian sappiness here and there, but what was likely a reasonably realistic rendition of the politics surrounding the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, based, as it was, on DKG's book. (I've read, though, that the implied urgency of getting it done during the lame-duck session was overblown.) Back then, playing to the press meant taking note of a few people taking notes in the balcony. The weight of the outcome was heavily felt and deeply considered by both sides. I wouldn't say there was much in the way of compromise, given the black and white, as it were, nature of the issue. But a key moment occurred when Thaddeus Stevens (I believe it, because Tommy Lee Jones, who played him, was a classmate of my wife at Harvard) was willing to tone down his rhetoric in order to gain a vote or two.

People spoke like speakers, back then. Using language. To each other. To persuade, and, of course, to annoy. To get a laugh. Since (I assume, without looking it up) there are records of the sessions, I presume the rhetoric in the movie was reasonably true to the times. It was good stuff. Puffery, to be sure; but weighted with the importance of the issue at hand, freighted with understanding that there were serious implications, good and bad, on both sides of the matter. Looking at our barely articulate and demonstrably stupid congressional leaders nowadays, it seems democracy wasn't meant for these times. It was meant for times when representatives -- and those who elected them -- were half-way (at minimum) educated; when people focused more on issues than on personal aggrandizement (did they? I think so) and when bribery meant something prosaic, like becoming postmaster of a backwater county, rather than having tens of millions funneled into a super-pac with no rules.

The reelection of Barack Obama was a good thing: it was, so I'd like to think, a repudiation of lying as political strategy, and an affirmation of his accomplishments in the first term. But if the non-negotiations  so far are an indicator, not a damn thing has changed in Congress: it's still led by pig-headed and self-absorbed losers more interested in themselves, their personal power, than in doing what democracy requires: negotiating in good faith, putting the interests of country ahead of those of person or party, and, above all, willingness to compromise to get there.

A pox on both houses in both Houses. I can't stand looking at any of them.

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