Frivolous Politics: Part IV

Choosing candidates to vote for at election time is not like choosing a buddy or choosing some sports or entertainment figure to idolize. Nor is it a verdict on someone’s qualities as a human being.

Theodore Roosevelt was a very honorable man with high intelligence and high ideals but he did much harm and the country would probably have been better off if he had never been President. The same could be said of Herbert Hoover.

It is not necessary to denigrate individuals in order to criticize their policies. Unfortunately, there are too many voters — in both parties — who act as if choosing whom to vote for is like choosing sides to cheer or boo at a sports event.

But elections in an age of international terrorism and with the shadow of a nuclear Iran looming ahead are much too serious for self-indulgence in idolizing or demonizing individuals.

Some Republican voters are apparently thinking of staying home on election day because they certainly have no one in their party to idolize and the Democrats haven’t had enough power to do anything to be demonized for.

Democrats of course have plenty of Republicans in power to demonize, starting with the President and the Secretary of Defense. It is doubtful whether anyone has ever filled either of those jobs without making mistakes but serious proposals for alternative policies would be more adult than demonizing Bush and Rumsfeld.

So many people have pointed out that Democrats offer no alternative policies that this can no longer be just an oversight on the Democrats’ part.

It is a calculated strategy, assuming that continuous second-guessing and denunciation of the Bush administration will undermine the Republicans enough in the eyes of the public to win the Democrats enough votes to take control of the House of Representatives this year and control of the White House in 2008.

Every opportunity for in-your-face obstructionism has been seized, whether the issue was serious or trivial.

The mere formality of counting the electoral college votes from the 2004 election in the House of Representatives was held up for hours by Democrats, even though they knew they had no chance to prevent Bush from being declared the winner. And since he was already President, this did not postpone his powers for a second.

Similarly, the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State was held up after Colin Powell was gone and she was already the President’s principal adviser on foreign policy.

In other words, nothing substantive was at stake. It was the frivolous politics of obstruction once again, playing to the grandstand.

The current round-the-clock rhetorical orgies about Congressman Foley’s sex notes to Congressional pages are more of the same frivolous playing to the grandstand. Foley is gone, as he should be, and if laws were broken, that is what cops and courts are for. But none of that solves any of this nation’s problems, at home or abroad.

If you think political spin and political gamesmanship are the answers to this country’s problems, then vote for the Democrats.

Some leading Democrats have already announced that they plan to impeach President Bush if they get control of the House of Representatives. In other words, in the middle of a war, they are prepared to bog down the administration in domestic political and legal hassles, putting the winning of the White House in 2008 ahead of winning the war on terrorism.

There was a time when we all understood that, whatever we might think of a President, we still had only one President at a time and that wholesale obstruction and undermining of him was obstruction and undermining of the United States in the face of its enemies.

Shrill obstructionist House minority leader Nancy Pelosi obviously does not share that view — and if Congressional Democrats win this election, she will become Speaker of the House.

If Democrats win the Senate as well, then they will have the power to not only impeach the President and Vice President, but also the power to remove them from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would then become President Nancy Pelosi.