Why is a raven like a writing desk?

As God is my witness, I may actually have a little sympathy for the Tea Partiers. From the Times:
As Tea Party politicians prepare to take their seats when the 112th Congress convenes this week, they are already taking issue with Republicans for failing to hold the line against the flurry of legislation enacted in the waning weeks of Democratic control of the House of Representatives and for not giving some candidates backed by Tea Party groups powerful leadership positions.

Just a month ago, Tea Party leaders were celebrating their movement’s victories in the midterm elections. But as Congress wrapped up an unusually productive lame-duck session last month, those same Tea Party leaders were lamenting that Washington behaved as if it barely noticed that American voters had repudiated the political establishment.
Welcome to the club, ladies and gentlemen! It's awfully frustrating when you get all excited about sending your folks to DC, voting them into office with your eyes shining in happy expectation, only to find that your agenda gets attenuated and ignored and alloyed during the political gamesmanship that happens once they arrive. Being that I voted for Obama largely because of W-era human and civil rights abuses, it was a bitter little pill to swallow when he codified indefinite detention and averred that the President has the right to order the murder of American citizens. It sucks, does it not, to see the very candidate positions that propelled you to campaign offices and into the polls ignored or reversed entirely. Get used to it!

Oh, and another thing you're going to have to get used to?
“We sent them a message that we expect them to go home and come back newly constituted and do something different,” Mr. Meckler said. “For them to legislate when they’ve collectively lost their mandate just shows the arrogance of the ruling elite. I can’t imagine being repudiated in the way they were and then coming back and saying ‘Now that we’ve been repudiated, let’s go pass some legislation.’ ”

“I’m surprised by how blatant it was,” he added.

Yeah, um... sometimes the "messages" that you "send" get ignored by the opposition, which uses every parliamentary trick in the book to advance its ends at your expense. One might have interpreted the results of the 2008 election, wherein the electorate gave the Democrats hefty majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the White House, as a "message" that we "sent." As it happened. the GOP caucus in both houses proceeded to obstruct every single blessed thing the Democrats put forth; in the Senate, they used the filibuster to an historic degree. "Message" ignored, it would seem. On the flipside, the Democrats used their time in the recent lame duck session to pass legislation they wanted to get passed, despite the "message" sent. Once again, "message" ignored. (Since I happened to disagree pretty strongly with the implied message, I'm not at all unhappy that it was thusly ignored.)

As Jonathan Bernstein will happily tell you, this is how Congress works. (Or, if you prefer, "works.") Love it or hate it (and he certainly seems to like it just fine), it's the way things work. No matter how much of a mandate you think you've got, it's not going to get everything you want done.

On that note, I find this (from another article in the Times) confusing:
Soon after the 112th Congress convenes Wednesday, Republicans in the House plan to make good on a campaign promise that helped vault many new members to victory: voting to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul.

The vote, which Republican leaders pledged would occur before the president’s State of the Union address later this month, is intended both to appeal to the Tea Party-influenced factions of the House Republican base and to emphasize the muscle of the new party in power.
Er... OK, then. Go for it, I guess. But I generally try to avoid demonstrating how puny my muscles are. I guess maybe the House Republicans like to show off the constraints on their power?

Because the Democrats still control the Senate, and the President will veto anything that somehow lurches out of Congress that threatens his signature piece of domestic policy. (Oh, hey, Tea Partiers! Another thing I was disappointed to watch die? A public option. See how I came full-circle there?) The House GOP will come nowhere near actually accomplishing a repeal. And, as the article goes on to point out, at this time the Democrats have nothing to lose by defending health care reform and talking it up, so demagoguing on this issue seems like a risky strategy at best.

Given my place at the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Tea Party, it doesn't hurt my feelings to see them frustrated. But I still feel a little bit of sympathy, as they're going to watch their new reps fail them in myriad ways over the next couple of years. It can't be helped, and it kind of sucks. Oh, well.


  1. I'd start off by having the House pass a bill undoing all the Obamacare exemptions giving out like candy in the last session. I'd like to see President Scary-smart and the Senate vote that down. Why, the campaign slogans practically write themselves.

    The real fireworks will come when the US reaches the debt ceiling, and when the continuing budget resolutions run out. There will be consequences for failing to pass a budget last summer.

  2. 1) "We chipped away at it!!" lacks the rhetorical oomph of "REPEAL," don't you think?

    2) The House can pass all the bills it wants to. It can re-paper the Library of Congress with all the reams it uses passing bills. Fine by me. Not a single one of them will become law without a similar bill coming out of the (Democratic) Senate or being signed by the (Democratic) President. The House passed all kinds of bills this past session that got watered down in the Senate, and there's no reason to think the GOP will be any more effective when they only control one house.

  3. The House has scheduled a (symbolic, to be sure) vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare. Again, why unions, especially public service unions, ought to be exempted from Jane Q. Public's very excellent federally mandated plan seems to be a good hill for Dems to die on. At least to me.

    I just read this firebreathing speech by a newly elected Tea Party type:

    "...raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

    And later, this

    "And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.

    Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities."

    Oh, wait, sorry, my mistake, that was then-Senator Barack Obama, back in 2006 on the floor of the Senate. I guess we can put him down as "present" on the issue of raising the debt ceiling. Or else we find out who kidnapped him and substituted the imposter currently in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania.

    Well, the flip side is, the budget bills start in the House. The Senate and the President won't get any bills to sign that can't make it out of the House.