Roger Simon: Obama vs. the frauds on the Hill
WHO ARE THESE people? Of what are they made that they can say and do such things on the floor of Congress?
No nonsense is too great; no act too low.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor leaves the floor of the House in the wee hours of Sunday morning, having taken action that would shut down the government, and releases a statement saying, "It's time for President Obama to rise above stubborn partisanship."
Which is like an arsonist's telling others not to play with matches.
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said Saturday, "Obamacare is based on limitless government, bureaucratic arrogance and a disregard for the will of the people."
Except Congress passed Obamacare; the President signed it; the Supreme Court upheld it; and Obama campaigned on it a second time and was re-elected. So in what manner was the will of the people disregarded?
And since when have the extremists in Congress cared about the will of the people? Is it the will of the people that government be closed, salaries stopped, services suspended?
Slyness and game playing rule the day. Having lost the vote on Obamacare, the extremists and those who fear them vote to cut off the funding of government unless Obamacare is suspended. And then they will try to force the United States to default on its loans.
Not because they wish to do the will of the people but because they wish to thwart the will of the people.
And when, in those rare moments, they decide to earn their salaries of $174,000 per year (plus expenses, plus perks, plus pensions) and actually pass a bill, what do they do? Last month, the House voted to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years.
It voted to deny people food.
Is this the kind of government our Founding Fathers envisioned? "For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill," John Winthrop wrote as his boat sailed from England to the New World in 1630. "The eyes of all people are upon us."
Walter Mondale used to quote that line, and so did John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. "The eyes of all people are upon us." What a grand thing. What an inspiring thing. What a guide for all our actions.
But what do the eyes of the world see today? What do the eyes of Americans see today?
In the past, I would complain that Congress was dysfunctional.
Today I would take dysfunctional. Because when the extreme right wing of Congress functions today, it functions with such malicious intent, with such perverse glee at frustrating the will of the people, that one does not know whether to laugh or cry.
We live in a time when outright buffoonery passes for statesmanship.
We live in a time when a 21-hour non-filibuster filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, leads not to general hilarity but to serious consideration of how it will help Cruz run for President in 2016.
Nor can the tragicomedy even be questioned. When a reporter asked Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Saturday what he would do if his efforts to defund Obamacare should fail, Issa stuck his nose into the reporter's face and shrilled: "How dare you presume a failure? How dare you? How dare you? How dare you?"
How dare us. Our leaders must not be questioned! They are beyond question. And, in some cases, beyond hope.
Shutting down the government will not shut down Obamacare.
Shutting down government is just another gun held to the head of the President, another threat by people who hate the fact that he is President.
In his first inaugural address, President Obama said, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Back then, Obama was speaking of extremists in foreign governments. Today he could be speaking to extremists in our own Congress.
At 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Politico congressional reporter Ginger Gibson tweeted: "I'm not over exaggerating when I say I can smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor."
What is the old joke? "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
Some of our lawmakers appear to be having both.
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist.