Watching the sausage get made is ugly. Or at least that’s conventional wisdom. But I’m glad I dared to watch the grinders turn Tuesday by braving what sent my wife screaming from the room; the live cable news coverage of a meeting with the president and members of congress about DACA. My wife isn’t the only one who suffers from Trumpette’s Syndrome, a Tourette’s Syndrome-like reaction of uncontrollable swearing and name-calling triggered by seeing the president on TV. Millions are suffering from it. But there was a reward for hanging with this particular Jan 9th Breaking News coverage of what should have been only a minute-long photo-op, but turned into nearly an hour of unscripted round robin with congressional members from both houses and parties. Sure it was all posturing but it was a rare example of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the American government.
The Good. The era of decorum may not be completely dead. One could argue that the sycophancy of everyone at this table in both parties was sickening. And hearing Trump talk about how politics needs to be less toxic is enough to make you throw up in your mouth a little. This is indeed the most hostile toxic time in our lives and it is precisely because of the divisiveness of Covfefe-in-chief. When Sen. Feinstein proposed a clean bill for DACA and Trump clearly didn’t understand what she meant, Kevin McCarthy jumped in to save him and link “the wall” funding to any DACA fix. It was genteel politics at its best and reflected a sweeter time. Yes, it was a clear political parry to Feinstein’s thrust. Nothing unusual about political fencing in politics. But it was done nicely, which for this hateful time, actually means something. Even the hypocrisy of our politicians smiling at each other while the cameras are on and then working to destroy each others’ lives off camera, even just that act of pretending to be nice is helpful these days. That’s how low we’ve sank. The parliamentary niceties, the “honorable gentleman from’s…” and “yielding to the gentlewomen from’s…” have never been more necessary. Even if they don’t mean it. At least we’re pretending to be civil, and that was good.
The Bad. The bad is that politics as usual was on full display at this table. One congressman’s personal agenda depended upon undoing another’s. Such is politics. This volley of statements from electeds was a clear demonstration of how things normally get bogged down. And it makes sense. Try to get anything accomplished with a dozen opinions around the table. But it doesn’t bode well when there’s no substance. Today both sides were pretending to have the DACA kids’ best interest at heart, even while the GOP is holding them hostage for “border wall” funding. How can we ever get anything done when one side is lying about their intentions? Feinstein’s suggestion to isolate DACA was spot on, if your goal is to save those kids. But if your goal is to score political points to help in the mid-terms, then you tie DACA support to the $19 Billion border wall like McCarthy did. The days of genuine honest communication in Congress is indeed dead. That is bad.
The Ugly. Seeing him facilitate even an awkward photo-op situation so clearly demonstrates what a stable genius our president is not. It’s not even that he’s the only one at the table who didn’t understand Feinstein’s point. It’s that he won’t admit that he doesn’t get it, and then when everyone else says No, you don’t get it, he tries to act like he gets it to soothe his overinflated ego. This is why he can’t improve, why he can’t learn, why our intelligence officers have to pare down his daily briefings, why everyone in the White House says he’s a child, why he is utterly unfit to serve in his office. That is ugly, because the House GOP sycophants have no intention of putting country first. Ever. They all know it, McConnell, and Ryan, and Graham, and the rest, but none of them will dare say it and those who do stand up to him seem to about face and kiss the ring of the king as soon as the base gets roiled. They all know he is a narcissistic man child and is a real threat to our safety. And yet, the charade goes on. It was on full display at this event. That lie is the ugly face of our government today.