Monday, May 30

So What Are We Going To Do About Washington Popinjays?

You know how it is when you read something and think, "Yes. That's just how I feel but I hadn't thought about it enough to articulate it?"

That's exactly how I felt when I read Peggy Noonan's latest column in the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal (Mr. Narcissus Goes To Washington) online this morning -- especially when she wrote, about public servants and heroes: "People who charge into burning towers are heroic; nuns who work with the poorest of the poor are self-denying; people who volunteer their time to help our world and receive nothing in return but the knowledge they are doing good are in public service. Politicians are in politics. They are less self-denying than self-aggrandizing. (italics mine) They are given fame, respect, the best health care in the world; they pass laws governing your life and receive a million perks including a good salary, and someone else--faceless taxpayers, "the folks back home"--gets to pay for the whole thing. This isn't public service, it's more like public command. It's not terrible--democracies need people who commit politics; they have a place and a role to play--but it's not saintly, either."

I could stand up and cheer at that one! Amen, say I. And hallelujah, someone else has noticed it, too.

Just try to influence your Senators and Congresspeople, for example. We elected those people to be our voice -- and, yes, I understand that they will simply consider one voice and not necessarily act on it. But what if you get together a group of like voices and try to influence that way. Folks, it doesn't work!

These people don't consider themselves voices of their constituents (and by the way, since the votes of people in both houses of Congress affect all the people, why do they not consider ALL of us across the country their constituency? We can -- and do -- affect their elections even if we don't live in their districts. We do that by contributing to campaigns, as in the Daschle defeat of 2004.

These people we send to Congress too obviously care only about themselves rather than their constituents OR the country. The little charade that has been going on in the Senate these past weeks is blatant evidence of that.

I love Noonan's interpretation of the Senator from South Carolina's speech: "Lindsey Graham, who said, 'I know there will be folks back home who will be angry, but that's only because they're not as sophisticated and high-minded as I am. Actually they're rather stupid, which is why they're not in the Senate and I am. But I have 3 1/2 years to charm them out of their narrow-minded resentments, and watch me, baby.'
Oh, excuse me, that's not what he said. That's only what he meant. It was the invisible scroll as he spoke. The CNN identifier that popped up beneath his head as he chattered, however, did say, "Conceited Nitwit Who Affects 'Back Home' Accent to Confuse the Boobs.'

Oh wait, that's not what it said. It said, 'R-South Carolina.' My bad."

As an American citizen I'm tired of being patronized and treated like my Senators and Congressmen think I'm a "boob." I'll match my IQ, my education and my experience with any of them on "The Hill" and dare them to look down on me. I'm tired of receiving form letters and being told that when a number of my fellow constituents e-mail a Senator or Congressman that their e-mails are considered "spam" rather than taken for what they are: expressions of sincere, thoughtful opinion by voters.

It's time we Americans took the country back from the politicians. I honestly don't know how we'll get anyone decent and honest to run in their places because of what the media does to candidates, but it's time we got together and made the effort.

Peggy Noonan wrote, "I personally was dazzled by their refusal to bow to the counsels of common sense and proportion, and stirred that they had no fear of justified insult ('blowhard,' 'puffed up popinjay') as they moved forward in the halls of the United States Senate to bravely proclaim their excellence."

It's obvious from the condition of the country that these self-aggrandizing pipsqueaks need to be replaced. And this isn't a party issue, either -- one's as bad as the other. Have we learned that the ballot box doesn't work? Is it time for a revolution?


bridalhome said...

The danger is of subsiding into a world of flavourless, colourless euphemism, leaving behind the robustness of good English. So I am looking forward to having Christopher Hitchens, the American-based columnist, on Start the Week, partly to hear his response to George Galloway, who called him “a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay” recently. Popinjay is good, is it not? I am pretty sure I’m a drink-soaked popinjay myself, and formerly many things of a disreputable nature

Sunnye T said...

Perhaps you, Christopher Hitchens and certain members of Congress should start your own Popinjay Society.