The Hastert Legacy to Representative Government
Another example of Republicans shooting themselves in the foot (they never seem to run out of feet, if not ideas). House Speaker Dennis Hastert said the Immigration bill, just out of the Senate, is dead on arrival over at the House. Hastert bulldozes and Pelosi goes along with hardly a whimper, neatening up the rough spots of his trackmarks.
Can’t someone ask that woman to look like she leads a party and not in every single picture look over at Hastert (or whoever) with that ‘I know I’m just a woman, but is that all right with you if I say something?” look? Run the minority, Nancy, grab your self-esteem by the bra-straps and try to look like you know what you’re doing.
Hastert’s formula for killing immigration is simple. He has enunciated a ‘majority of the majority’ rule that entirely destroys all vestiges of bipartisan governance in the House of Representatives.
Let's hear it for bulldozers.
I continue to try ladling out criticism even-handedly when it comes to Washington. But it’s really a challenge. The Democrats are merely incompetent and without leadership, but that’s almost a definition of the Democratic Party. Will Rogers said,
“Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.”
Probably true, but I don’t remember them ever being as downright evil when they held the majority in Congress. Clueless is often a Democrat attribute, evil seldom.
What Hastert enforces is his self-proclaimed ‘rule’ that major legislation reach the House floor only if it appears to be backed by a "majority of the majority." Appears is the most bald-faced of euphemisms, he knows damned well what each Republican thinks and probably what they dream.
This high-handed treatment of the duly-elected legislators of the minority party is reason enough for the electorate to throw the Republican bastards out, come November.
Your government in Washington, the government you voted for, Republican or Democrat, will now be the private reserve of 116 out of the 435 members. There are 231 Republicans in that chamber and a ‘majority’ end up being just 27% of who ran and argued and got elected. That’s absolute bullshit. A Travesty. The Hastert Legacy to Representative Government.
Throw the bastards out.
I don’t know where a relatively honest boy from Illinois learned to act like that. Certainly not from Adlai Stevenson or Everett Dirkson. Dennis is a small-town boy, a high school teacher and wrestling coach, which ought to give him a healthy respect for humble roots and the power of democratic government. Maybe he hung around Tom DeLay too much.
In a totally convoluted example of political garble-speak, Hastert tried to make clear his overriding philosophy a couple of years back
"On occasion, a particular issue might excite a majority made up mostly of the minority. The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority."
Americans from Wall Street to Main Street are equally tired of manipulative government and there is no other name for Hastert’s position. The ‘job’ of the Speaker is to negotiate coalitions that serve the nation.
Washington is rampant with Harry Truman quotes these days. He’s more the darling of Republicans than Democrats. George Bush quoted him 17 times in a speech the other day, trying to rub off just a little of the honesty that attached itself to Harry. The Congress and the President might do well to remember one of Harry’s better statements,
“It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
But Dennis and Tom DeLay ignored the tide in this country and the tide is rapidly becoming a tsunami. They’re still gazing out to an empty sea, stunned by what’s visible on the bottom, when they ought to be running like hell for high ground. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham nailed it,
"I hope we will realize that our majority is at stake if we fail to deliver on an important issue like immigration. If it is perceived by the public that the Republican Party -- which owns the House, the Senate and the White House -- cannot solve hard problems working with Democrats, then we will lose our majorities."
You bet. Can’t happen too soon.
Hastert is in a sweat to retire, to get out of the pressure-cooker he’s created and into the cool, comfortable wealth of his own K-Street lobbying firm. Forget about all those middle-class nobodies back in Illinois and buy himself a mansion out near the Chesapeake. Sit by the pool, spread around some money, be somebody for a change. Not enough to be a Speaker of the House of Representatives. Where’s the honor in being just another politician?
The way you abuse your position, Dennis—not much.