Thursday, October 02, 2014

When The Only Tool You Have Is George Will

You beat a lot of dead horses.

Congress increasingly attracts people uninterested in reversing its institutional anemia. They are undeterred by — perhaps are attracted by — the fact that they will not be responsible for important decisions such as taking the nation into war.
And meticulously misdiagnosed the underlying disease using the Conservative Quack Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Political Disorders:
This reinforces Congress’s self­-marginalization: Congress increasingly attracts people uninterested in reversing its institutional anemia. They are undeterred by — perhaps are attracted by — the fact that they will not be responsible for important decisions such as taking the nation into war. As Congress becomes more trivial, its membership becomes less serious. It has an ever-higher portion of people who are eager to make increasingly strenuous exertions to hold offices that are decreasingly consequential.
George Will proceeds to dispense the most Conservative cure of all:  applying Even Bigger Leeches to fix the problem of Congress' "institutional anemia"!!
To solve the braided problems of “a proconsular presidency or a quietistic Congress,” Weiner advocates congressional term limits:

Supposedly, “members of Congress who serve longer are more competent, confident and therefore likelier to stand up to the president.” But “something has gone wrong with Federalist 51’s assumption that members of Congress seek office for power and not perquisites. . . . The privileges of permanent service too gravely swell the stakes of staying” and “supply reasons for serving other than exercising power. . . . Members of Congress who serve for brief periods will have . . . every political reason for taking up the power available to them while they can. . . . Members so situated will be likelier to defend their branch as a branch.”
Of course as any person not yet afflicted by a Conservative's trademark disdain for facts and history could tell you, George Will's burning love of a chastened and constrained executive branch and an aggressively assertive legislative branch is a tidal kind of love.

It comes and goes (h/t The Lion in Winter)

As FAIR documents in great detail here, when the White House is occupied by a member of his Republican Party, Mr. Will can be quite lavish in his praise for a President who tells Congress to pound sand.  It is only when the tide changes and a Democrat comes to power and rough winds do shake the darling buds of Mr. Will's deep-rooted authoritarianism that he finds his Great Big Voice on the subject of ways in which Congress can be "fixed" so that it can be even more reflective of George Will's moods and whims.

As for prescribing term limits to "fix" this transient "problem", I see that Brother Charles Pierce and I are reading the same papers over our morning Jameson and Ovaltine:
Term limits were a scam in 1993 and they are a scam today, because our history with them at the state level proves that what term limits do guarantee is not that a legislature will guard its own responsibilities but, rather, that a legislature will cease to function at all. Actual political power inevitably will drain away from green legislators and toward the more permanent aspects of the political order, including the executive bureaucracy and the permanent shadow government of lobbyists. This is in no way a good thing.

But it wouldn't be a George Effing Will production if there wasn't some papier-mache erudition cloaking his threadbare idea.
Term limits are Madisonian measures, altering the incentives - the "interests" or "personal motives" - for entering and using public office. Term limits can define a conservative agenda of taming executive power by enhancing the power of Congress.
The problem with calling term limits "Madisonian" is that James Madison would have kicked your ass for doing so. The Constitutional Convention in 1787 specifically rejected term limits for members of Congress. It did so because those limits had been in place under the Articles Of Confederation, and they had helped enable the paralysis of the national government that had almost led to catastrophe. As Robert Livingston of New York pointed out during the debate: "the people are the best judges who ought to represent them. To dictate and control them, to tell them whom they should not elect, is to abridge their natural rights. This rotation is an absurd species of ostracism."

Hell, this is why Madison wrote Federalist 51 in the first place. They had your number, George. For god's sake, leave that poor chicken alone.
Term limits are not the problem.

Term limits were never the problem.

The problems are twofold and deeply interrelated.

First, gargantuan piles of bad money are Greshaming decent humans beings out of public service.

Second, a relentless, lavishly-funded, 40-year Republican propaganda campaign to destroy our ability to govern ourselves because Gummint Is Unalloyed Evil (and Libruls too!) has bred an entire generation of ambitious Republican ratfucking grifters and seditionists who believe that the only reason to run for office is to make a buck busting out the institution to which one has been elected because Freedumb!
A "bust out" is a common tactic in the organized crime world, wherein a business' assets and lines of credit are exploited and exhausted to the point of bankruptcy.
And much of the gargantuan piles of bad money has been used to elect Republicans whose sheer tonnage of blithering, Fox-by-rote numbskull dumbassery and barely concealed racism makes the late, unlamented Jesse Helms look like Paul Wellstone.

Get gargantuan piles of bad money and the Conservative scum from the shallow end of the American political gene pool the Hell outta Congress and the ship will right itself soon enough.

Of course, that it not going to happen anytime soon because pathological mendacity that no adult would tolerate from a four-year-old is now just accepted by our "Both Sider" media the resting heart rate of the Republican Party.

And since our Both Sider media refuses to identify anyone other than "Congress" and "Washington" generically the problem, why not just institutionalize the firing of everyone in "Congress" the minute they start to figure out where the Sargent at Arms hides the Honorable Ben Tillman Memorial Spittoons and the emergency Cheez Doodles?

And thus does George Will continues to have a job.


dinthebeast said...

Have you seen that thing on his head? Princess Sparkle Pony said that it probably hides the slot where they slide the talking points in.

-Doug in Oakland

Robt said...

First let me state where I have stood on "Term limits"
--Term limits already exist. It is called an ELECTION.

George Will-ikers running distraction by recycling Newt Gingrich and his successful promise to ease hate and failed follow through to produce. A guise of campaigning on contempt of the electorate. Can tap the Tea leaves to vote.

I have to admit that using the Federalist Papers (551 in this case) is not quite the authority I normally accept in arguments.
It reminds me of folks that argue the word of Jesus in the New Testament as they cite and quote the old Testament. Sure, Madison may have kicked Will's but over it. Adams may not have.
In your two main points,
Aristocratic desire to corrupt for power in a world of Citizens United. (The founders were clear on "corporations).
The propaganda that has hidden under the disguise of Free Speech and how long it has infected and it continues.

If it wan't for these two points I might have had to disagree under the flag of The Articles of Federation failed miserably and only reflect what did not work and why the Existing document (U.S. Constitution) has continued to endure.
Because of this I accept and agree with your stated assertion of G. Will. There again, Will Jr is simply another one of those "in the house" media elites through the Nepotism based from his father.

Can I just say,
All these billionaires who have offspring are going to have to be provided with jobs. Not just any jobs. The gene pool requires these elite special children to have positions of staure that reflects the respect that the parent company finds worthy.
Look to the Saudi family and how many princes there are and all the Government ruling power positions they are born to.
Our founders were explicit about enormous wealth and power passing down to create a ruling family as they had experienced in old Europe. Ending with being ruled by spoiled royal brats.
You know, what has materialized in Congress by the hands of the voters. That actually vote--that is.

bowtiejack said...

Doug in Oakland

". . .probably hides the slot where they slide the talking points in."

Ahhhhhhh. Made my day.

steeve said...

"It is called an ELECTION" - where the voters who give congress a 13% approval rating vote for the same butthead they voted for last time. Term limits or no term limits are nothing next to such flagrant stupidity.

Just like how all the Fox News viewers I know claim to dislike Hannity while failing to disagree with him on anything, conservative voters can't bring themselves to admit that they received exactly what their ideology called for.