It’s unsettling enough for a liberal Democrat such as myself that Republicans always play hardball while Democrats are playing Nerf Ball, but today Democrats managed a glorious hat trick of gastrointestinal-challenging hypocrisy, shaming moral cowardice and political malpractice that ought to get its own monument on the Washington Mall, if not a Rushmore-like edifice carved into a mountain of Jell-O.
So not shocking was it that Republican Mullahs of Immoderation, those ideological Section Eights forced the nation to endure sequestration cuts despite warnings of economic harm and real pain, that the American Heart Association certified the healthiness of their effort with a Health Checkmark. Of course they began to mewl like infants swaddled in soaked diapers when widespread flight delays provoked by the furloughing of air traffic control workers began to affect people like them.
Democrats were handed the opportunity not only to point out to airline travellers that these were among the consequences of Republican nihilism, but also to press for a resolution of sequester cuts across the board. Instead, approaching a congressional recess this weekend, and loathe to be inconvenienced in the slightest, they rushed to join Republicans in their ongoing project of economic royalism and passed a bill ending air traffic controller furloughs so fast you literally missed it if you happened to blink, leaving in place every other draconian sequester cut. Did Democrats stand up, dig in, or go to the barricades? No, they ran like namby-pamby, unprincipled, tone-deaf, weak-willed, character-defective, entitled fops toward the baggage check-in kiosks at Reagan and Dulles.
The bill, the Reducing Flight Delays Act (Oh, fuck you) gets introduced in the Senate Thursday, comes to a vote on the same day, and sails through the Senate 100-0. Setting a land speed record for passage of legislation it passed the House today 361-41 (In fairness, there were a few Democratic conscientious objectors). One can only imagine what the families of the Newtown victims must think, after mounting their heroic effort on Capitol Hill for the passage of extremely watery gun safety regulation, unable to mange even an up or down vote on the Senate floor. Gun slaughter, climate change, economic stimulus: all politically untouchable, according to the conventional wisdom. Airline delays for members of congress and the flying class? Bango presto. A public option in health care reform was considered such a politically impossible feat Sisyphus wouldn’t even take the call, much less show up at the boulder ready to roll. Raising the minimum wage? The political equivalent of constructing a space station on the Sun.
So, what is the fate of America’s 4.6 million long-term unemployed who are suffering a 17% reduction in their meager weekly benefits due to the same sequester? How about those elderly Americans losing their Meals on Wheels, many of whom depend upon them for their only hot meal of the day? Are America’s 70,000 children who have lost their Head Start worthy of a fleet-footed congress coming to their rescue with emergency speed? Come back to us when you’ve got something as urgent as flight delays for business travellers and members of congress.
Ah, you long-suffering, recession-battered, vulnerable Americans, say a little extra prayer of thanks tonight before bed. The Reduce Flight Delays Act is now the law of the land. Hip Hip…pffffft.