Day: 2014.09.25

A Toxic Troika? A Note on ‘Optics’ and ‘Metrics’

Jeb Bush, left, speaking Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., in support of Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for the Senate. Credit Chuck Burton/Associated Press

When studying the Castor and Pollux of politics and punditry it might help to bear in mind that many of the buzzwords are intended to sound quasi-scientific in order to hide the fact that the terms describe artistic results. A metric, for instance, is simply an abstract measurement in unknown units compared to a presupposed psychomoral idyll that may or may not be available for examination and should never be trusted in the first place, anyway. The metrics of a situation are whatever the pundit wishes to describe in order to make his or her own narrative sound that much more compelling.

But then there are the optics of a situation, and this is a fairly easy explanation. Political optics are, quite literally, nothing more than appearances within a frame described by a pundit’s metrics.

In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party’s conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

(Martin)

Ah, optics!

(more…)

The Speaker of the House of Representatives

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

The story so far: There is a war on, in case you hadn’t heard. Except it’s not a war, because Congress has not declared one, and sees no need to consider the question before the upcoming midterm election. Say what you will, but it’s Congress.

We heard earlier this month from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and others about how the Senate GOP intended to run out the clock before the midterm elections; a week ago, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) simply closed shop in the House of Representatives, getting his caucus out of town after eight working days in order to spend the subsequent fifty-four calendar days hiding from tough votes. And he did this on the same day he complained about how the unemployed have a sick idea that they would rather just sit around.

So, right. There’s a war on. Sort of. And Congress has no intention of doing anything more than rubber-stamping an existing covert program. Republicans, especially, will get back to complaining but refusing to face votes after the midterm election.

Oh.

Right. There’s this, from Carl Hulse of The New York Times:

With American airstrikes in Syria continuing, Speaker John A. Boehner is increasingly convinced that Congress must hold a full debate on granting President Obama the authority to use military force against terrorists.

“I have made it clear that I think the House and the Congress itself should speak,” the speaker said in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with First Draft.

But Mr. Boehner believes a post-election, lame-duck session is the wrong time for such a weighty decision.

“Doing this with a whole group of members who are on their way out the door, I don’t think that is the right way to handle this,” he said.

Mr. Boehner, who is open to a more expansive military campaign to destroy the Islamic State, thinks lawmakers should take up the issue after the new Congress convenes in January.

At that time, he said, President Obama should come forward with a proposal for consideration.

The Seal of Speaker Boehner's House of RepresentativesSo there’s a war on. Kind of. But that question can wait until next year.

The Speaker offers a rather damning indictment of Congress. No wonder the American people have no faith in their legislative branch; the Speaker of the House has no faith in it, either.

And that is about the kindest interpretation of Boehner’s disgraceful Speakership we might distill from this latest episode.

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Hulse, Carl. “Boehner Says New Congress Should Debate Military Action”. First Draft. 25 September 2014.