Getting Silly

Eric Holder in Washington, D.C., 1 June 2014. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Every once in a while a politician pops off, like Bill Clinton saying he never inhaled, and somewhere in the world several people are laughing in a specific context: Ha! He really went and said it!

But then there are times when we just want to put our foot down. It is considerably more abstract a sense of outrage, and there really isn’t anything funny about this particular flavor of disgust.

Paul Kane and Juliet Eilperin bring the latest very nearly predictable twist:

President Obama has yet to reveal his choice to succeed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but already the Senate confirmation process has begun its march toward contentiousness.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)With Nov. 4 midterm elections potentially tipping the balance in the Senate, some Republicans immediately called for a delay in the hearings and votes on the new attorney general until January, when the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate might give Republicans almost total control of the outcome.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a political call to arms for conservatives, saying that outgoing senators should not vote on the nominee during the post-election lame-duck session. “Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder’s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced,” Cruz said in a statement.

It would seem a strange proposition that the United States Senate actually doing its job would constitute some sort of abuse of power. Kevin Drum rightly wonders, “Unless Cruz is suggesting that [lame-duck senators] should be banned completely, then of course business should be conducted during lame duck sessions. What else is Congress supposed to do during those few weeks?”

And, yes, this is the sort of idiocy we have all come to expect from Mr. Cruz; his is a unique brand of fertilizer. And, certainly, it is reasonable to run down the list of reasons why the junior senator from Texas is wrong. In the larger picture of the Beltway Republicans, though, the Senate backbencher and honorary President of the Tortilla Coast Junta in the House is, for once, actually taking his lead from Speaker Boehner instead of working to frustrate him.

The rules of the contest are simple: the dumber and more outrageous your rhetorical firebombs aimed at President Obama, the better you do. It's sort of like a video game for cretins. (Kevin Drum)And there is certainly an irony of contrasts, with the Speaker blasting the unemployed for the “very sick idea” that they would “rather just sit around”, and then closing down the House of Representatives for fifty-four days in order to avoid actually doing anything.

Or perhaps that’s not fair; Drum notes:

In any case, since Congress has no intention of doing anything worthwhile for the next two years, this means they’ll have plenty of free time for dumb fights that allow them to one-up each other for the tea party vote. The rules of the contest are simple: the dumber and more outrageous your rhetorical firebombs aimed at President Obama, the better you do. It’s sort of like a video game for cretins.

Snipe hunting aside, on Thursday Speaker Boehner suggested that Congress should wait until next year to address the American military effort against Daa’ish. And now we have Ted Cruz suggesting the Senate shouldn’t perform its basic duties during the lame-duck session, so any nomination for Attorney General should wait until next year. During election season it occasionally occurs to wonder why we would hire the candidate who says the job cannot or should not be done. Then again, it seems somehow unusual to actually witness Republicans so determinidely working to prove their thesis that government cannot work properly by actually refusing to do their jobs. That is to say, sure, we get it, but aren’t they kind of, you know, making it obvious?


Kane, Paul and Juliet Eilperin. “Attorney general confirmation process is fractious even before it’s begun”. The Washington Post. 25 September 2014.

Drum, Kevin. “Republicans Already Planning Big Fight Over Nominee They Don’t Even Know Yet”. Mother Jones. 26 September 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Ted Cruz’s A.G. fight already misguided”. msnbc. 26 September 2014.

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