Writing at National Review, Jim Geraghty offers a telling insight into why so many people don't take modern politics at all seriously. Following Wednesday's testimony from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, many leaders and leading voices in the Democratic-led United States House of Representatives talked about how our nation is in a crisis moment.
The rhetorical flourishes were made with great...um, flourish. Phrases were set to stun. The late President Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than face certain impeachment, was invoked. Many copies of Roget's were consulted in order to produce the verbiage necessary to convince those reading and listening to these representatives that we are in grave peril. The loyal opposition party, the last bastion of liberty standing against the president's Russian-sponsored plot to overthrow the rule of law and government of the people, by the people and for the people, drew its verbal line in the sand. It nailed its colors to the mast. It burned the ships of waffling and faint-heartedness. It performed various and sundry other metaphors denoting how it would speak truth to combed-over power and say, "Here we stand, we can do no other!"
Tomorrow it will go home for six weeks.
As Geraghty points out, when you go home from work for six weeks -- although the assorted members of Congress will doubtless engage in some campaigning and constituent service, so they'll sort of work -- you only do so if there's nothing coming up in those six weeks that you think will require your immediate attention. So either President Trump is the greatest threat to the Republic since Jefferson Davis and must be stopped -- in which case you stick around and maybe heft a bale or two in the cause of stopping him -- or you're just making noises with your mouth in order to get you and people like you elected to office again by providing sound bites to stir up the people to pull the lever for you like the government-goodie-activated robots that they are.
You may say I'm a cynic, but I'm not the only one. Today's Friary cynicism may be born of middle-aged grumpiness, but it was learned early on in one of the humblest of settings: newspaper coverage of small-town city and county government. It was there the belief in the idea of public officials as public servants ran smack into the idea of public officials as manipulative meatballs who would say whatever they needed to say and do whatever they needed to do in order to preserve these tiny little ponds in which they could pretend they were larger-than-average fish. And if those two "whatevers" were to oppose one another? So what.
And the bigger the political stage? The bigger the dissonance between tone and action. The bigger the shrug when the actors get called out on the mismatch between their dialogue and their blocking.
We could say that we'd be better off if we threw them all out and started over. But the problem then would be that we'd be left with the people who want those jobs and already tried to get them. And failed.