David Obey, Maxine Waters and The Plague of Unearned Exceptionalism

“Oh Good God!” I exclaim in mordant disgust. I shouldn’t blaspheme until I’ve consumed more caffeine and hence have a better excuse. However, she made me do it. No, not my lovely wife; but rather Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

The latest in a string of incorrigible stupidities involves her recent dust-up with the thuggish David Obey. It seems that Little David and Little Maxine just couldn’t play nicely with The Taxpayers’ money. Churlish details follow below.

After the House floor had largely cleared following a series of votes, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) split apart from a heated conversation and began yelling at one another.

“You’re out of line,” Waters shot while walking down toward the well.

“You’re out of line,” Obey shot back before turning and walking away.

But then Obey stopped, turned back toward Waters, and shouted: “I’m not going to approve that earmark!”

It was at this point, that I expected Maxine to announce. “I’m telling my Mommy!”
Instead she came out with something even more profoundly infantile.

Obey turned away, but Waters went to go huddle with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. She could be over heard telling them: “He touched me first.”

Waters was escorted by her colleagues into the cloakroom.

Escorting her into the cloakroom was a wise move. She needed to go to time-out.

All partisan jesting aside, this comic stupidity reveals a deeper problem, requiring an understanding. How do people like this get control over anything more important than a weekly allowance? Why are two obviously infantile people controlling the destiny of the world’s largest economy and the most lethal military force?

It would seem that the noblesse oblige component of American Exceptionalism would require of the American electorate that they elect better. If you have 25% of the world’s resources, the most deadly guns and bombs and every conceivable advantage that can accrue to mankind, you owe the others less fortunate better than a ruling caste consisting of David Obey and Maxine Waters. The Spanish Hapsburgs were capable of replicating those two after a mere two generations of incestuous conjugation.

Really, the reason that America produces rectal cloacae such as Congressman Obey and Congresswoman Waters is that we build them that way. People are not born that way. According to Charles Darwin, the evolutionary process would select athwart the continued presence of that sort of specimen in the gene pool of our species. We have to warp people at an early age to produce that sort of heinous result.

This occurs initially via the “cocky but dumb” syndrome afflicting American public schools. Evidence of this was reported in 2007 by Ralph R. Reiland of The Pittsburgh Tribune. He described the outcome of a recent mathematics competition between “smart” American students and a pretty average bunch of South Koreans.

Before the test, each group of students was asked if they were good at mathematics. Here’s what Reiland reports each group had to say for itself.

Only 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of eighth-graders in the United States, according to the latest annual study on education by the Brown Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

But then we had the actual taking of exams. Not-so-shocking results follow below.

The problem is that the surveyed Korean students are better at math than the American students. Their kids are unsure and good, in short, while ours are cocky and dumb — not exactly a good position for the U.S. to occupy in an increasingly competitive global economy.

These American kids were lucky. They got spanked by accurate feedback before the job market did it for them. New college graduates entering the job market are not so fortunate. The Chronicle of Higher Education describes a common occurrence for recent US college graduates.

Perhaps they already have been searching for months, but what they’ve found offers only some combination of the following: a minimum-wage job with no benefits, part time only, in a field seemingly unrelated to their degrees. Possibly the job is also physically and emotionally exhausting, involves dealing with angry customers, and requires repeating robotic sales pitches and survey questions. Many graduates are not quite ready to adapt to the conditions of entry-level employment as it is today.

Of course, they are right to detect a mild note of schadenfreude. About four years ago, I asked a class of first-year college students how many of them thought they were better than their parents. Every hand in the room went up. They were destined for great things.

But the problem is simply that they are not better than their parents. This is where I get all mean, nasty and KKKonservative. Exposing these young people to failure at a young age would not be a bug, it would be a feature. We all think we are king of the court until we have the opportunity to play one-on-one against the next LeBron James. He may break your ankles with his cross-over dribble, but he’s also given a useful data point.

Like the slave in ancient Rome that followed the triumphant general on his victory parade, the experience of failure at an early age can tell us something very important. “Remember you are human.”

So what happens if fate plays an evil joke? Let’s say no one ever tells David Obey or Maxine Waters that they are only human. They got through life feeling entitled to be lord and lady of all they survey. They also go through life completely unprepared to wield large volumes of power in a decent and ethical fashion. You get Kindergarten on the floor of The House.

So why then do we have this scene? We have it because our society has banned failure and thereby enstupidated the population to the point where a random sample of possible Congressmen and Congresswomen will contain a large volume of Obeys and Waterses. They are a mirror of our dysfunctional, modern society.

America will only be exceptional when we stop making exceptions. We can become exceptional again when we demand it from ourselves and our leaders. I can’t un-elect either David Obey or Maxine Waters. I don’t live in either of their districts.

I can take a stand where I live. So may you, I pray that you shall. We are not now an exceptional nation. We will not again be exceptional until David Obey and Maxine Waters are the exception; not the rule.