“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Regarding Peggy Noonan's Latest Drivel

Peggy Noonan's condition, whatever it exactly is, must be worsening. Her column in last weekend's Wall Street Journal seemed to reach a new low in coherence, though it did manage to make some sense at the end.

She lauded the Senate's 'Gang of Six' proposals, nebulous as they are reported to be, writing,

"...but to quickly push it aside would be a real missed opportunity. Those who critique the plan can help it. Its cuts in entitlements and its attempts to reform them are unclear and appear insufficient. If the Senate passed a final proposal along Gang of Six lines, House Republicans would have to make the bill more concrete, more reliable in its mechanisms. And they'd probably have to make deeper cuts...."

And, to quote an old West Virginia-born ATT colleague of mine,

"If a pig had wings it'd be a chicken."

Gee, Peggy, were you taking your nap last week when the House passed its Cut, Cap and Balance bill? Or its detailed Ryan budget a few months ago? Both of which are all you describe, so that the Senate could have merely met in conference with the House to hash out details and pass both.

My point is, the House already did what Noonan suggests, so why would anybody need a less-specific so-called plan from the Senate?

They don't.

Which is why the Gang of Six proposals are worthless. They are a navel-contemplation among six percent of one chamber of Congress, while another 529 Congressional members would like to have a say. Sort of a Super Congress prototype.

Hell, just confine it to the Senate. What about the handful of new GOP Senators like Johnson of Wisconsin, Paul of Kentucky, and Rubio of Florida? Don't you think Tom Coburn and his other two GOP Gang of Three have slighted the former, making them feel useless, having just arrived on a wave of Tea Party passions for spending cuts?

There's something else about the Gang of Six proposal that smacks of arrogance. Even Noonan admitted,

"It could not be turned into specific legislation quickly....Kent Conrad said Thursday morning it could take six months to get it all done and through the appropriate committees."

Then what in God's name is anyone doing considering it in the same timeframe as the debt limit? Aside from being a self-serving distraction for some Senators, it's something that could have been done anytime.

Shame on Conrad and his colleagues for trying to elbow their way onto the debt limit stage with something that has no place there, but could have and should have been more broadly broached in the Senate months ago.

Here's a guy- Conrad- who can't manage to do his job and get a budget through the Senate for over 800 days, but finds time for his little skull sessions with five other Senators so he can grab some valuable media time and attention.

But, after completely misreading the Gang of Six proposals and blowing her coverage of it, Noonan turned around and wrote some sensible things about Wonderboy's disgraceful behavior of the last month or so.

"For the longest time he didn't care about spending, and now he cares about spending. Good, both in terms of policy and for him. But his decision to become engaged has become a decision to dominate, to have his face in front of the television cameras with his news conferences, pronouncements, and what his communications people are probably calling his "ownership" of any final agreement. He's trying to come across as the boss, the indispensable man, the leader. And, of course, the reasonable one.

That's all very nice and part of Political Positioning 101, but at this point it's not helping. He's becoming box-office poison. His numbers are falling. The RealClearPolitics composite job approval poll rating has him down six points since June 2, when the debt-ceiling crisis began. That fall, from 52% to 46%, exactly tracks his heightened media presence and his increased attempts to be seen as dominant. Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, said that if he ran for president today he'd lose, that his job-approval numbers are "worse than they appear," and that he continues to have real trouble with undecided voters.

And if you've watched him lately, you know why. When he speaks on the debt negotiations, he is not only extremely boring, with airy and bromidic language—really they are soul-killing, his talking points—but he never seems to be playing it straight. He always seems to be finagling, playing the angles in some higher game that only he gets. In two and a half years he has reached the point that took George W. Bush five years to reach: People aren't listening anymore.

The other day he announced the Gang of Six agreement with words that enveloped the plan in his poisonous embrace: "I wanted to give folks a quick update on the progress that we're making." We're. He has "continued to urge both Democrats and Republicans to come together." What would those little devils do without Papa? "The good news is that today a group of senators . . . put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that I've urged." I've urged. Me, me, me.

That approach includes "shared sacrifice, and everybody is giving up something." He was like a mother coming in and cheerily announcing: "Dinner's served! Less for everybody!"

We're trying to begin a comeback, not a famine. We're trying to take actions that will allow us to grow.

He's like a walking headache. He's probably triggering Michele Bachmann's migraines.

The Gang of Six members themselves should have been given the stage to make their own announcement, and their own best case.

The president, if he is seriously trying to avert a debt crisis, should stay in his office, meet with members, and work the phones, all with a new humility, which would be well received. It is odd how he patronizes those with more experience and depth in national affairs.

He should keep his face off TV. He should encourage, cajole, work things through, be serious, get a responsible deal, and then re-emerge with joy and the look of a winner as he jointly announces it to the nation. Then his people should leak that he got what he wanted, the best possible deal, and the left has no idea the ruin he averted and the thanks they owe him.

For now, for his sake and the sake of an ultimate plan, he should choose Strategic Silence."

I like how Noonan was so blunt about how Wonderboy tries to focus everything on himself, as if he's the parent of a bunch of recalcitrant, wayward children. In fact, people like Paul Ryan have more time in Congress than Wonderboy had before he ran for his current office. In the two years prior to this job, he essentially voted 'present' in the Senate while preparing to run for the White House.

He is the least-experienced guy among 536 elected federal officials ostensibly trying to do something.

Chances are, if he would just shut up and stay off camera, the Congressional leaders and their troops could get something passed, then just shove it down the First Rookie's throat and tell him to sign it or don't bother campaigning for another term.

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