There’s something very fishy when people who have been in or around politics and politicians for many years start publicly insisting that Washington play patty cake. David Broder reports –
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a potential independent candidate for president, has scheduled a meeting next week with a dozen leading Democrats and Republicans, who will join him in challenging the major-party contenders to spell out their plans for forming a “government of national unity” to end the gridlock in Washington….Conveners of the meeting include such prominent Democrats as former senators Sam Nunn (Ga.), Charles S. Robb (Va.) and David L. Boren (Okla.) [President of the University of Oklahoma, hosting the meeting], and former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Republican organizers include Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.), former party chairman Bill Brock, former senator John Danforth (Mo.) and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman.
What do these conveners have in common? For one, they are all out of or soon to be out of the limelight. But this little factoid does not deter Broder from using ominous military metaphors:
The list of acceptances suggests that the group could muster the financial and political firepower to make the threat of such a candidacy real. Others who have indicated that they plan to attend the one-day session include William S. Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and defense secretary in the Clinton administration; Alan Dixon, a former Democratic senator from Illinois; Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida; Jim Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa; Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and granddaughter of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower; David Abshire, president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency; and Edward Perkins, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
How many times can the word “former” show up in a column without becoming tedious?
And what is the threat to the Republic that has roused this chorus of used-to-be’s? Is it the looming fiscal meltdown of the United States under exploding national debt and a feeble dollar? Is it lives, treasure, and prestige destroyed in bumbling around Iraq and environs? Is it the shredding of the United States Constitution under an imperial presidency?
“As mayor, he has seen far too often how hyperpartisanship in Washington has gotten in the way of making progress on a host of issues,” said Bloomberg’s press secretary, Stu Loeser. “He looks forward to sitting down and discussing this with other leaders.”
Hyperpartisanship? The “hyperpartisanship” of the Bush era has resembled a schoolyard bully straddling his supine victim while pinning his arms with his knees, flailing away at the hapless kid’s bloody face. Oh, and the bloodied kid supposedly represents the interests of nearly everyone in this country save the rich and the wingnuts, so by extension — we are bloodied too.
So Bloomberg wants, to extend the metaphor, for the bully and the victim to stand and throw their arms around each other’s shoulders like buddies in a Norman Rockwell illustration. Shucks, folks, boys will be boys. So, if “we all just get along,” who benefits? The answer is so obvious only those hypnotized by beltway snooze-inducers would miss it:
When the boat doesn’t rock, those who got, keeps what they got.
I prefer the tone of another “former” politician. Here’s what makes for greatness — being for somebody other than yourself. Here’s an excerpt from Franklin Roosevelt’s Address Announcing the Second New Deal delivered on October 31, 1936:
For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair!
Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.
For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.
I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.