Il Duce Benito Mussolini’s exasperated response to Clara Luce Booth in 1937 rings true today here in America. Washington remains much as Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner observed in their 1873 The Gilded Age: uncaring, amoral and filled with self interest.
Members of Congress were treated with particular contempt by the authors during the notoriously corrupt Grant Administration. Fast forward to the present time.
A new House of Representatives sat on Jan. 3 with agendas that have as much to do with winning again in 2020 as they do with governing. A third of the Senate will stand for re-election; 22 of those are Republicans this time. Frankly, both parties must concentrate on that body that approves Cabinet appointments, judicial nominations and treaties.
There is already a circus about who will be serious candidates for president — more than 20 candidates? This silly season has already begun. The president will run again without serious opposition within his own party, and there will be electoral gamesmanship.
Virginia and 15 other states have sued the administration over whether the president has the emergency power to spend money not appropriated for that purpose and how the states will be affected by sidetracking military construction projects. These suits have yet to be heard; many similar suits have been dropped. The House of Representatives just filled its own suit — to be heard next month.
Will any of it matter? The flood has already breached the dike.
Twenty states consider legislation requiring the release of income tax returns in order to be on the ballot in that state. Really?
And the post mortem on the Mueller Report continues like a daytime series that just never ends.
The true “national emergency” appears to be a collective lack of resolve to govern, and no amount of steel planking or bulldozers will cure that affliction. The Democratic Party goal appears to be to shore up and solidify its hold on traditionally loyal states, many of which have been losing population. They are equally uninterested in governing. Some possible “emergencies” follow.
» U.S. Army troops on the border will stay until the end of the fiscal year. They mission has shifted from hardening infrastructure to extending concertina wire and conducting mobile surveillance. Is there room for more troops on the border, including National Guard? What does this do to desperately needed modernization initiatives for the Army?
» Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Her inevitable departure remains a wild card for Trump. A 4-4 Court sustains latest appeal; a 5-3 Court can overturn it.
» Is aid and support to Venezuela a crisis? Or will we stay on the sidelines, in the shadows, to avoid the overt nort americano tag that will come when the inevitable bloodbath begins?
» Preparations for the 2020 Census are underway. The Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether a citizenship question can be asked and seems to support the administration. There will be a reapportionment of House of Representatives seats by 2022. Immigrants, legal or otherwise, have been counted before. States losing population due to climate and taxes have every right to be concerned. Projections are for eight eastern, Northeastern, and Great Lakes states to lose a seat each. Texas stands to win big, as does Florida; California and Virginia will probably remain static, or lose.
» Medicare is near the end of solvency. Medicare for All is a great campaign slogan but not a program.
Great presidents come along rarely; overly aggressive ones tend to balance out the quieter, passive ones. Between Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan there was a swamp of both. Presidents Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama all showed some moments and episodes of greatness. And what will we have on Election Day 2020?
German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck noted that those who love law and sausage should never observe either being made. There is a very good possibility that America will see enough of the political sausage-making to become vegan.
Schoch lives in Williamsburg.