The frothy hyperventilating began immediately, didn’t it?
I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t.
Last year’s State of the Union address was a bit subdued, what with Gabby Giffords having been shot through the brainpan not long before. When Obama entered the House chamber in 2011, Republican and Democratic lawmakers sat together as a show of bipartisan support arrayed around Giffords’ empty chair. The booing from the opposition was subdued, as were the cheers from the president’s own party. Of course, despite the new seating arrangement and the vague empty promises of bipartisanship, the frothy insanity, finger pointing, blame laying, chest thumping, dick waggling, comparisons to Hitler and the long-awaited Anti-Christ, and dire proclamations of Islamofascicommunazis started even before the President finished speaking.
On a side note, yesterday Giffords’ border bill passed the House by unanimous consent, proving once and for all that Congress can get things done in a bipartisan manner – providing that the bill’s sponsor gets shot in the head and resigns first. So, yay for progress. But I digress.
As we enter into the final fevered ten months of the frenetic spittle-flecked shit-fest that is the modern American version of democratic civilization, I expected this year to be different only in the intensity of the maddened venom tinged rhetoric.
Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
It started with Mitch Daniels.
At first it appeared that Daniels would be, perhaps, a bit more reasoned, more staid, than Paul Ryan’s strident call to arms last year – and vastly less entertaining than Michele Bachmann’s squalling glassy-eyed paranoid Tea Party response. Daniels looks kind and grandfatherly, like he should be seated on a tractor wearing a worn comfortable woolen sweater and hawking diabetes supplies next to Wilford Brimley. It’s only when he starts to talk that you suddenly realize that Daniels is nuts, his vague fixed smile and unblinking walleyed stare are a thin veneer over what looks to be the early onset of senile dementia. Daniel’s “response” resembled an actual coherent rebuttal, but upon closer inspection was actually just a bunch of conservative talk-radio sound bites lifted whole cloth from the usual pundits. The criticism was obviously cut and pasted together long before the president’s address was even in rough draft, and Daniels delivered it like a heavily medicated mental patient triggered by some unseen stimulus into reciting the Gettysburg Address as a party trick.
I think my favorite part was when Daniels lamented Obama’s evil Orwellian plan to outlaw incandescent light bulbs. Oh no! Anything but that! Keep your filthy government hands off of my hot yellow bulbs, goddamnit!
Just one problem, it was actually George W. Bush who signed that into law on December 18, 2007.
That’s a full year before Obama took office, just in case you got your history from Professor Gingrich.
In fact, that particular bill sailed through Congress with broad bipartisan support, 314 to 100 in the House, 86 to 4 in the Senate. It was only after Obama took office that energy conservation suddenly became government overreach. When it was a conservative in the White House, LED bulbs were just common sense, but when it is a liberal occupying the Oval Office suddenly we’re talking about the stark monochromic light of fascism!
Funny thing, last month Obama signed legislation delaying the regulation – at the opposition of manufacturers and importers who have already geared up to sell the new CFL and LED bulbs. You’d like to think a sitting lawmaker would know that, wouldn’t you? If it bothered him so much that he felt compelled to mention light bulbs on national TV in response to the State of the Union address, I mean. You’d also think that if Daniels’ GOP handlers were going to write his little rebuttal in advance, they would have at least done some research – wait, unless that was the day Wikipedia was down due to the SOPA protest, but, hey I digress, as is my tendency.
Yes, I expected bizarre hyperbole and foamy red-flecked froth this year.
I expected bellicose outrage and ranting punditry and pompous bloviating.
And I was not disappointed.
Turns out, Daniels is a piker.
Mitch Daniels was nothing but the warm up act.
For extra crunchy crazy, well, you need to step out into Statuary Hall where republicans gathered to vent their spleens after the address. Universally, conservative lawmakers were offended by the entire speech and testily pointed out how Obama’s optimism is really defeatist hatred of the United States, his praise of the US Military and the US Navy SEALs (who were at that very moment rescuing an American held hostage by pirates in Somalia on Obama’s orders) is really disdain for America’s men and women in arms, his call to bring jobs back from overseas is really contempt for business, and his establishment of consumer protections and regulations on the banking industry is really both a hatred of the free market and white people in general. But for the absolute zenith of the absurd let’s focus on reaction to this line from the President’s address:
Tonight, I am proposing that every state, every state, require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.
The sheer unmitigated gall of the man! Where does he as President of the United States get off suggesting that American kids get the minimum educational qualifications necessary to compete in our society at the most basic level? How dare he! Why it’s outrageous! What if kids actually did that and managed to get entry level jobs and started working their way up the ladder instead of ending up on welfare and other entitlement pro…. ok, bad example, but I think I’ve made my point here.
Tea Party darling, Utah Senator Mike Lee responded, "That's none of his business! He's not a principal! He's not a public school teacher! He's not a governor, he's not a mayor. These are matters for state and local government!"
Yeah! Damned right! Why…uh, wait, what was that about “he’s not a teacher?” Are conservatives listening to teachers now? Because I thought teachers were liberal commies who hated America. Did that change? Also, point of order, Obama actually is a teacher, or rather a professor of Constitutional Law. Does that count? No, I suppose not.
Arizona Republican Trent Franks was equally outraged, "What are you gonna do, give them the electric chair? It should be handled on the parental level."
Huh? You there, in the back, do you have a question or do you just have to go to the bathroom? Speak up.
Seriously, are you blind? It’s right there! Obviously Obama was saying that he intends to implement a federal regulatory agency that will put kids who drop out of school to death! Duh. How do you not see that?
Georgia Republican Phil Gingrey agreed, "To require them to stay in high school to age 18, those who have absolutely no intention of getting an education or value an education are disrupting the other kids in class. I think it's just a government misguided run amok quite honestly.”
Amok! Amok! Government run amok! Oh stop the Amok! (Sorry, I just like saying Amok! Amok! Amok! That’s a funny word. Amok!)
Here’s my idea, why wait until they’re teenagers? Most kids know if they hate school or not by the time they’re in second grade, I say it’s never to early to drop out! More for the rest of us.
Question, why is it just good old American conservative values (which made this country great, darn it!) to suggest that black people should get jobs instead of food stamps when Newt Gingrich says it, but fascist government overreach worthy of red-eyed outrage when a black liberal President suggests that maybe kids should stay in school?
Say, wasn’t no child left behind a republican idea? So what, now it’s ok to leave some kids behind?
What? Put your hand down, I’m just asking is all. Sheesh.
Do you ever wonder who votes idiots like this into office?
Well wonder no longer. They’re all over on the Yahoo news forum, lets go check out their comments:
I am not for mandated government control of our schools. Obama is from a system where kids are forced to attend or they get beaten, their father's have their hands cut off, the women are stoned - don't tell me I don't know. I am a Republican
Obama is from a system where kids get beaten for not attending school, fathers have their hands cut off, and mothers are stoned to death for their children’s truancy. Damn, school in Hawaii is harsh.
It is NOT education: It is INDOCTRINATION for the Communist Party.
Oh noes! Communists! Communists! Help us Tailgunner Joe!
Question, the countries that are beating us economically right now? China, for example, aren’t they communist? Isn’t India socialist? Hey! You stop that right now. No spitting.
the Dems only hope to get anyone off the welfare rolls is to force them to stay in school and somehow learn enough to get them to stay out fo prison for dealing drugs or raping someone. Republicans meanwhile take the approcah that we should elt the kids who want to learn, actually do it. Meanwhile, if you wash out you should fend for yourself, instea dof living off the ones who do stay in school [sic].
The logic, it burns.
Burns like trying to piss with a case of the clap.
There’s more, oh so much more, but it hurts me to type it. If you want to read more comments on this subject, you can go Google the Yahoo for yourself.
Snark aside, there may be good reason for Republican outrage. And even better reasons why so many conservatives today are advocating for the right drop out of school.
A new report in LiveScience spells out why.
(Ok, you got me, I didn’t put the snark aside after all. Sorry)
Finally, I think it’s important to note that all things are relative, even stupidity.
There’s never a politician so nuts, that you can’t find one crazier.