Well, it’s good to see that some spills can be contained, and for my money, the Joe Barton blurpage of toxic substances is win-win for Democrats. He said it; it can’t be unsaid; and the craven way he tried to unsay it hours later — that thing I said with great conviction earlier today? I didn’t mean it — only underscores what a mess the GOP’s big tent has become.
I don’t think politics is a zero-sum game. I don’t think heads-I-win has to mean tails-you-lose. I really, truly and stupidly believe that politics should be concerned first and foremost with the good of the country and its people — all of them — and that no party has a monopoly on solutions to its problems.
But people like Barton are part of the problem, this mindless worship of business and corporations at the expense of all common sense or perspective. They represent a huge chunk of the Republican party. It’s time everybody knew what the logical end of their butt-kissing is.
Remember all that stuff about respect for the presidency, especially on foreign soil, that we heard when the Dixie Chicks dared to express an unkind opinion about President Bush back in the day? What’s the calculus when it’s in the halls of Congress, and the opinion is expressed to a foreign-national head of a corporation? Where’s the my-country-right-or-wrong then?
There’s actually a pretty good debate to be held about this, and you can see it laid out in this NYT analysis. For my money, Rahm Emanuel gets it right:
To Mr. Obama, this is all about rebalancing the books after two decades in which multinationals sometimes acted like mini-states beyond government reach, abetted by a faith in markets that, as Mr. Obama put it at Carnegie Mellon University a few weeks ago, “gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of industry oversight.” When Representative Joe L. Barton, the Texas Republican, opened hearings Thursday about the gulf oil gusher by accusing Mr. Obama of an unconstitutional “shakedown” of BP to create a “slush fund,” he was giving voice to an alternative narrative, a bubbling certainty in corporate suites that Mr. Obama, whenever faced with crisis that involves private-sector players, reveals himself to be viscerally antibusiness.
The reality, not surprisingly, is more complex.
Mr. Obama clearly sees his presidency as far more than a bully pulpit — he has cast himself as a last line of defense against market excesses that take many different forms. “In the past, corporate America was not only at the table, they owned the table and the chairs around it,” Mr. Obama’s combative chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said in an interview Thursday. “Obama doesn’t start off confrontational, but he will be confrontational if there is resistance to the notion that there are other equities.”
Well, these — Barton’s people — are the same ones who said the forest fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988 could have been prevented if we’d just let timber companies come through and log it from time to time.
By the way, I haven’t been to Yellowstone since 1992; how’s it looking these days? We went in 1988 and again the year after, to see the changes. Even a year later, it was fascinating to see the green meadows blooming under the charred remains of lodgepole pine, and four years later, the aspens were well-established. The oddest places were a few acres here and there where there had been a lot of fallen dead trees before the fire; this is where the blaze burned hottest, from forest floor to canopy. It left behind the classic post-fire landscape and we heard a lot of nonsense about “sterilized soil” that would never support growth again in 100 lifetimes, etc. You know what I bet? I bet that wasn’t true.
I know MarkH lives out Jackson Hole way; maybe he can fill us in.
And now it’s Friday morning, and I have to get moving for my 9:30 GPT meeting. This week has been a little thin, content-wise, but as so frequently happens in weeks like this, the comments have been tremendous, especially Wednesday. It only serves to remind me that we’re truly a community here. Let me slaver my thanks, once again.
And now off to the bike. It’s going to be a hot one today. Have a good weekend, all.