Tom Foreman | Bio
A full moon rises behind the Capitol; a hidden door opens; a scurry of feet, a rustle of leaves, and then silhouetted against the night Nancy Pelosi throws her head back and howls. Ah, October! The haunting month of Halloween is upon us, and the timing could not be better, because the House of Representatives has become downright ghoulish.
Let’s review the recent carnage. A Democratic Congressman from Florida said the Republican health plan is for people to “die quickly,” and accused the GOP of an American holocaust for not supporting universal health care. Not to be outdone, a Republican Rep from Arizona showed up on YouTube calling President Obama an “enemy of humanity” for his abortion rights stance. On Facebook, an unspeakable poll contemplated the president’s demise; a prominent columnist (not as prominent as me, but still…) mused on whether the rhetoric might turn violent; while critics called him nuts for even thinking such a thing. And throughout, the Greek chorus of political pundits moaned in the background.
All in all, it’s making the new movie Zombieland look like a weekend at the Sandals resort. What happened to all the fun in politics? Just a year ago, even as the election burned toward the finish line, both sides were still promising bipartisanship, cooperation, and an independent in every pot. Now, there is not a ghost of that spirit left. It’s nothing but fangs and claws wherever you look.
There is real danger in the voodoo spells being hurled around the House chamber. Health care reform, while admittedly on the critical list, is not dead yet. Important questions about our future in Afghanistan are bubbling in the kettle. The White House wants to talk about education, green energy, and oh yes, the economy is still struggling to rise like a newly stitched and electrified Frankenstein. All of the rancor is driving a stake deep into hopes of any progress on any of those fronts.
To be fair, there are genuine political divisions behind some of it. But the sharpness of the words being wielded is causing the fight to be not about those issues, but instead about…well, the fight itself. And in that environment, public interest usually dies first, like the heroine’s best friend when the guy in the hockey mask comes to the campground.
So why do the good, honest pols let it happen? Because when fights like this break out, faithful followers on both sides open their wallets to fill the parties’ war chests. And you know what that means: If you think this October is spooky, just wait until the sequel next fall.
Dolly back. Fade to black. Be afraid.
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