A Kick in the Rump

Jack Atherton - bio/email

Wouldn't this make one heck of a State of the Union address: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you!" That's how Oliver Cromwell castigated the "Rump Parliament" in 1653, which had grown notable chiefly for insisting on its own privileges.

Sound familiar? While the mainstream media headlined President Bush's historically low approval ratings of 28%, a new Rasmussen poll, if you can find it, shows Congress with an approval rating of ...9%! And apart from lawmakers and lobbyists, I'd love to meet the 9% who think this Congress - Democrat leaders and Republican accomplices alike -- does not deserve to be kicked in the rump.

Forget what this Congress has done, charging up debt like college kids with their first credit cards, fattening up millionaire patrons like the ones who fed off the recent Farm Bill. Consider instead what Congress has not done. No reform of Social Security or other entitlements that threaten to bankrupt our kids. No follow through on the vow of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to cut off funding for what they declared to be a failed war in Iraq. And, of most concern right now to voters, a drumbeat no, no, no to most any proposals that would make America less dependent on foreign oil. Thirty-five years after our first oil shock, we are now more dependent than ever.

On this issue, Republicans are stuck. While a lot of GOP lawmakers demand an energy commitment akin to the Manhattan Project that produced atomic bombs during World War Two, or JFK's call to put a man on the moon, the GOP standard bearer is sending mixed signals. John McCain wants to bring 45 new nuclear power plants online, extract clean coal and award $300 million to anyone who invents a more energy efficient car battery. Yet some would say perversely, and perhaps fatally, McCain is diffident about domestic oil drilling. He now favors lifting Congress's moratorium on off-shore oil exploration, but only if coastal governors agree. McCain's gotten a thumbs-up from Florida's Charlie Crist, who wants to be McCain's VP. But California's Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "Hasta la vista, baby." Meantime, yet another Republican governor, Alaska's Sarah Palin, joins the majority of her citizens who favor drilling in ANWR, but this McCain flatly opposes (see excerpts from my recent interview with him at fox19.com in the "Choices 2008" section). All of which adds up to something less stirring than the Manhattan Project.

Still, Democrats may have an even bigger problem, because all they're offering is misery. Congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi, joined now by Barack Obama, have no coherent plan to produce more domestic energy. And though they swat down every Republican proposal, Democrats hope voters in November will blame Republicans. True, Bill Clinton vetoed drilling in ANWR while George W. Bush favors it. True, Democratic union leaders joined automakers in loading tariffs on foreign trucks and SUV's, leaving Detroit addicted to gas guzzlers it can no longer unload. But Pelosi and Reid count on the electorate remembering only who's now in the White House, and electing Democrats to control the White House, Congress and the courts.

Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. President Bush is unable to talk over the heads of the mainstream media, as Ronald Reagan did, and Republicans in Congress, led by Tri-Staters Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are a far cry from the Contract of America class of 1994 that was suffused with idealism and integrity, whatever you might think of its platform.

Cromwell ordered his troops to kick out the lawmakers he called corrupt and unjust men. Thank goodness that's not our American way. But suffering as we do with this do nothing (good) Congress, we can forgive Old Ironsides for bellowing, "You are no Parliament!"