Diary

This is why we're cynical about Congress

congress_show

Americans are cynical about Congress.  Approval ratings are in the basement at 15.2 percent according to RealClearPolitics.

We see congress like a bad TV show being acted before our eyes, with the real purpose to only sell us one more show to watch.  It’s like the fake freak shows at county fairs, or the ring toss at the carnival midway where the barker just wants you to spend another few bucks to win a tiny cheap stuffed animal, but behind the scenes he scorns you over a beer and a Marlboro.

The only difference between that carny and the congressman is the congressman is sipping a 40-year-old Dalmore single highland malt Scotch Whisky over surf and turf at the Blue Duck Tavern, with a fine Padron Serie 1926 to follow.

It’s gotten to the point where simply being in congress makes one part of the Establishment—sort of like being a noble in 1789 Paris made one headless.  It’s not fair, but such is how the proles see the lords.

When Erick opined that there’s a problem with [mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ] running for speaker, I called him out for cynicism.

Do we have reason to be cynical?  Yes, absolutely.

Because Congress is completely dysfunctional, at a very basic level.  As much as I personally like many of the people I have met who work for congressmen and senators, they are part of the problem.  These days, careers are made within the tiny bubble of Capitol Hill, and seats in our nation’s legislature are traded like Pokemon cards, or passed down like titles of nobility (which are, ironically, banned by the Constitution).

We should, ideally, choose our representatives to Congress based on their positions on issues, and their commitment to conservative principles.  And Congress should choose its own leaders based on those members who embody the principles of the majority party, and their ability to do the job.

Erick wrote:

Gowdy would be the useful idiot for Boehner and the rise of [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001165′ ]  because conservatives trust Gowdy. But Gowdy has shown himself on several occasions to be a team player with leadership at the expense of conservatives. Each time, conservatives have given him a pass because of the Benghazi investigation.

Before Gowdy was a congressman, he was a prosecutor, and a pretty good one, by all accounts—a federal prosecutor.  Those positions are inherently political, and good stepping stones to congress or other elected offices (see Gov. Chris Christie, or Rudy Giuliani et al).

Then there’s McCarthy, who at 24 years old was the district director for Rep. Bill Thomas, his predecessor.  Thomas retired in 2006 and McCarthy took over.

[mc_name name=’Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000395′ ], who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, thinks McCarthy will do well as speaker, especially working with Senate Majority Leader [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ].

“To be as young as he is, and as relatively inexperienced as he is, he has quickly grabbed hold of the reins in almost unprecedented fashion,” Rogers said. “He has his head screwed on right, he understands human nature, he understands the importance of individuals and their roles here. And the importance of getting our work done. He’s been a tremendous supporter of appropriations and our committee and getting our bills to the floor and doing the best by them.”

Now keep in mind that Rogers is a huge McConnell supporter.  But note the four words “getting our work done.”  Our work.  For someone who has worked in politics essentially their whole life, our work is to get re-elected, to make sure the government keeps on making sausage, and to ensure that their own state or district gets as much of the spoils as possible.

That really sums it up.  Working for actual principles is somewhere far down the list, below sending franked mail (at taxpayer expense) replying to a constituent’s call or office visit, or arranging Capitol tours for local school kids on their annual “trip to Washington.”

Rogers said McCarthy was “an institutionalist,” a characterization usually reserved for older, more seasoned politicians such as McConnell; outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; or Rogers himself.

[mc_name name=’Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000562′ ], a freshman Republican from Colorado who came over from the House, agreed with sources who said the transition would be easy.

“It’ll be different because McConnell and Boehner served longer together, but I think any time you … have two leaders who are committed to the same task, and that’s not only governing here, the institution, but putting forward an optimistic vision for the people, they’ll work together well,” Gardner said. “It’ll probably take some time for each other to get used to governing styles and how their relationship ultimately will work out, but I think it’ll be a good working relationship.”

A good working relationship.  Keep the sausage-machine going.  Stay in office.  Get the voters to buy one more ring toss.

The job of speaker is to set the agenda for the whole House of Representatives, with a view toward the party’s principles and goals.  A “good working relationship” is great when the other side seeks the same, but Democrats are using flamethrowers and vowing to leave no survivors.  Why should any Republican have a good working relationship with the chief collaborator with Democrats in the Senate, who won’t even bring a bill to the floor without 60 votes?

“I do know Kevin. We have a good relationship,” McConnell said Tuesday. “And obviously, I and the folks behind me will be working with whatever team the House ultimately selects.”

We should question everything.  We should look at everyone’s relationships.  But in the end, raw cynicism only leads to more scorn.  It looks like McCarthy is not going to change a thing.  Honestly, I’d rather have Gowdy.  Or even Newt.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says the speaker must be an elected member of the House. The House could pick anyone from Carrot Top to Oprah as speaker. Those options don’t make any sense (though Oprah would probably place some wonderful gifts under members’ seats). But there is one non-member who might bring the skills the moment requires: Newt Gingrich.

While we’re on the subject, why not go all the way?  Chuck Norris for speaker.  If Congress is just a show, it may as well be one worth watching.