That's the phrase Timothy Egan uses in the New York Times today as he turns a spotlight on the G.O.P. in the House, and the people in leadership positions. Too often coverage of Congress is a war of soundbites between the leaders and the White House. Yet the rank and file, the troops who do the actual combat, hold the hearings, craft the laws, write the regulations - they seldom get much attention. And they should. Egan pulls no punches.
Take a look around key committees of the House and you’ll find a governing body stocked with crackpots whose views on major issues are as removed from reality as Missouri’s Representative Todd Akin’s take on the sperm-killing powers of a woman who’s been raped.These are the people the 2010 elections put in positions of real power. Egan picks out a half dozen and holds them up to the light. (Representatives John Shimkus of Illinois, Joe Barton of Texas, Jack Kingston of Georgia, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Todd Akin of Missouri and Paul Broun of Georgia)
On matters of basic science and peer-reviewed knowledge, from evolution to climate change to elementary fiscal math, many Republicans in power cling to a level of ignorance that would get their ears boxed even in a medieval classroom. Congress incubates and insulates these knuckle-draggers.
Let’s take a quick tour of the crazies in the House. Their war on critical thinking explains a lot about why the United States is laughed at on the global stage, and why no real solutions to our problems emerge from that broken legislative body.Go read Egan's column, and share it. Those on the right, the FOX News fans who've already made up their minds about the election, will dismiss it as partisan blather and lies of course. Those who've been paying attention already know what Egan is talking about (and are rejoicing that the press is finally starting to openly discuss it, however grudgingly.) Those who avoid knowing anything about politics if they can help it, the low information types, the "they're all alike" dismissalists, and the rest... well if turning this country around is in their hands, we're screwed.
But it's still important to talk about this, win or lose. If Obama is reelected but the House remains in G.O.P. hands, if the Senate ends up under Mitch McConnell, the President will be a lame duck from day one of his second term and nothing will get done. The Republicans will continue to paint every failure to address the country's problems as the failure of Obama and the Democrats. We need to throw a spotlight on the crackpot caucus to show where the real trouble lies - and we need to keep it up.
I Love OCD had a diary up the other day suggesting that Republican voters aren't stupid. What they hear from the Republican Party is a constant message about how great America is, the wonderful things America does, how the Republican Party is all on board with that - and how all our problems are the fault of Democrats. When Democrats respond by talking about all the problems America has, the challenges America faces, and how we really need to do something about them... Well, guess which message sounds more attractive to voters?
The Republicans have spent decades doing their best to destroy the image of the Democratic Party and everything it stands for while, getting a free pass for their record of incompetence and outright criminality. They don't stop when elections have come and gone; they've built a media machine to keep it going 24/7/365. It's time for the Democrats to abandon the false 'civility' that has allowed this farce to continue for so long.
Democrats need to do more than just trying to get America to face up to the very real problems confronting us. They need to tie those problems - and the failure to do anything about them - to Republican ideas, Republican failures, and Republican leaders. The fallacy that we shouldn't 'waste time' looking backward has turned out to be an extended exercise in failing to learn from the past. Democrats CAN run on a positive message by pointing out America HAS succeeded in overcoming great challenges under the guidance of Democratic ideals and leadership DESPITE Republican opposition.
Akin gives us a huge opportunity. By getting caught out on how extreme his views are, he's started to get the press and the public looking at the rest of the Republicans in Congress and just what a bunch of whackdoodles they all are. Egan's column would be far less likely to have been written and published without that opening. Democrats are starting to tie Akin to his fellow party members around the country, and they don't like the attention to what they've been up to while they've been distracting us with birth certificates and Tea Party theatrics.
Akin has given us an opening - now let's use it!