Tuesday, May 24

The Republic Is Saved! Shades of 1850!

It's dogged as does it. It's not thinking about it.
-Anthony Trollope

Spent the evening reading all the blogs in my "Wonk" folder, and my provisional opinion about the Great Filibuster Compromise is this: I'm not a wonk, nor do I aspire to be one, nor will I accept wonkitude if thrust upon me.

Yeah, I'm glad there are wonks around when I need them, and I'm impressed by many and admire some, but even when I need them it can make me ill at ease to watch them in operation. It's a lot like watching a guy repair something that's too complicated for you to understand. You hope he'll fix the problem, but you know it's possible he's just gonna charge you to change the paradigm instead.

I've read people, left and right, people lots smarter than me, talking about the death of Bill Frist's political asperations. This ended Bill Frist's presidential hopes? Okay, nothing is impossible. Huey Lewis might make a big comeback. Wal-Mart might decide to pay its employees a living wage. James Dobson and Ralph Reed might very well name the next Republican nominee. But Bill Frist it ain't, and weren't never.

I'm also told I'm supposed to be happy that Dobson got himself a black eye. That's all well an' good, but it seems to me it's a lot worse that somebody like Dobson is in a position to get a black eye in the first place, especially when the issue is whether we should keep playing Calvinball until his side wins, or all set down to supper first. If a little schoolyard justice was all we needed we'd be doing fine. What our present situation calls for, though, is tar and feathers.

When I was in college my favorite professor introduced me to wargaming--historical simulations with cardboard counters played across huge maps. This was in the days when "computer" meant either a roomful of IBMs reading punchcards or something that went amok in the second feature at the drive-in, so you had to have actual friends to play. The maps were about the size of USGS topos, and sometimes there were two or three; the rules were fairly complicated and required lots of arguing about who could or couldn't do what when. It sometimes would take a couple hours just to set the thing up. Play and bong hits would commence around 2 pm Saturday and last until the Sunday morning church shows came on television, which was left on for that purpose. My live-in girlfriend actually left me over those games, at which point I learned a lesson more valuable than not relying on the Romanians to watch your flank at Stalingrad: there's such a thing as being a little too involved with the arcana of things.

Admittedly, I'm not just a "the glass is half empty" sort of guy, I'm a "plus there's a goddam lipstick smear left on the thing" type. I don't mean to minimize what the Nuclear Option meant. I just mean to point out that we find ourselves in a time when it could come up in the first place, and when you have to find a reason, and a cover story, for a majority of Senators to uphold the traditions of the Senate. It doesn't thrill me to know that I have more respect for those traditions than they do. It's not much cause for celebration when the cost is two or three more questionable ideologues added to the federal bench.

Sure there are wheels within wheels. The Nuclear Option was in no small measure an internecine fight the radicals lost. Yes, Frist saw himself in the Oval Office and he overreached, but it was his foolish decision to to pander to the religious nuts that doomed him, not the compromise. I'm not breaking out the hats and hooters over a black eye. When you smart boys figure out how to send 'em all to queer street let me know. I'll buy.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, well...
I'm not the sort of curmudgeon who decries the loss of moral standards, but the loss of intellectual standards and competence standards, that's maybe another thing.
There's a failure of a drunken frat boy deciding if the planet gets the cosmic middle finger, for pity's sake. This is not a high point for the species.
It might cheer you up, in any event, to check out August Pollak's take on things. He doesn't really say anything you can't read elsewhere, but he says it wittily enough that you can forget how appalling it all is for a few minutes.
Not unlike a certain other guy I turn to every morning to keep me from becoming the Fox News Distraction Of The Day after I crack and decide to barricade myself into the wombat exhibit at the zoo in protest of whatever idiocy they've managed to slip through the partisan gridlock now.
Send lettuce. I hear wombats dig that.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this. I can't really figure out if it's good or bad for sure, I've seen a lot of people saying both things - on both sides. But I'm leaning towards the fact that in a month or 2, we'll have to go through the whole thing again, and next time i have a bad feeling that our side won't be able to spray perfume on the shit.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent post, pinning points that the politics blogs are missing in their race to say exactly the same thing as all of the other political blogs.

Why do I need to read "at least Dobson won't be picking the next Supreme Court justice" 17 times? Frist's career is over? I'll believe it when I see it.

You're the first blog I read and it isn't only because you're blog title is early in the alphabet...

Anonymous said...

Does that make John "Mufasa" Warner Henry Clay? What does that make our other VA Senator, George Allen? James Buchanan? If I go back in time and take a crap in John C. Calhoun's Senate desk, is it Lindsay Graham or Bill Frist that starts smelling like poo?

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Corndog! Great to see you, man. Kathy, I will admit I briefly considered naming the thing "AAA Doghouse Riley Blog".

Anonymous said...

Hey DH, this is off topic, but I imagined you would have a nice farewell post for Ernest T. Bass.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just saw over on Corndoggerel that he has a nice post about Ernest T.

Ray Bridges said...

As much as I detest the idea of Janice Brown and Patricia Owens becoming appellate justices in the federal court system, I'd accept it as a fair trade if it caused Frist's presidential ambitions to crash and burn. I've been trying to see the glass half full of water. At least the California Supreme Court will lose its only ideologue.

Anonymous said...

Out of purest curiosity, what do you suppose we'd have to give up to put paid to Jeb's presidential ambitions?
It seems a far more likely scenarion, really. I never considered Frist in the running at all.