Friday, August 5, 2011
Who’s Calling The Shots?
By R.A. Monaco
August 5, 2011
During a recent online discussion following the debt ceiling debates, I commented that our Democratic governance had shown itself ineffective and that further proof of a broken system of governance was not required. I lamented that, there was just no possibility that American democracy could be governed effectively when whichever party threatens the greatest harm to the nation's economy dictates policy and the president surrenders. The interests of policy makers, I suggested, must be re-aligned with interests of the voters of this nation which should not include corporations and multinational companies who are seemingly behind the scenes calling the shots while financing political campaigns.
In a most concise manner my assertions were then put to task, “who’s calling the shots?” I was asked, while presented with a link for OpenSecrets.org (http://www¬.opensecre¬ts.org/org-s/list.php) —which provides a ranked list of 140 Top All-Time Donors featuring a legend giving a dollar amount and partisan breakdown. The primary goal of much of the money that flows through U.S. politics is “Influence”—that’s it, end of story. The Center for Responsive Politics endeavors to hold politicians accountable and the compilation of heavy hitting donors was just the type of information that supported my conclusion—it doesn’t really matter that both sides of the aisle are being financially influenced, now does it?
In the days prior to the congressional vote on the debt ceiling, a Washington Post poll showed a 72% disapproval rating of the proposed debt ceiling bill—yet politicians ignored the voice of the public and partisan agendas continued to forge ahead disregarding a considerable investment of time according to Senator Dick Durbin who contributed to a committee whose work was completely left out of the entire debate and final legislation.
The openness of my online exchange concluded with the other party stating, “I do, however disagree with you on the partisan issue. Democrats and Republican¬s most certainly reflect opposing ideologies.” Our discussion to that point seemed productive, I had learned something and discovered reliable information that supported the essence of my assertions about corrupting influence, but then, he went on to say that, “Too many liberals blame nebulous 'corporate interests' that really control the government.”
As our discussion ended, I was left with the minimizing conclusion that somehow corporate interests were not a factor in the equation of public concerns. My assertions were nonpartisan though it is easy to see why conservatives might be sensitive to my observations at that moment. Minimizing clichés seems to be a real problem in the exchange of ideas and ideology these days. Today, it’s more important to carry the team banner of conclusions when facts and rational support cannot prevail.
On Friday last, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer claimed that it was a “ridiculous ubiquitous cliché” to say that the problem is that Washington was broken and that while the legislative sausage-making was unsightly, the problem was merely the competition between two visions yet undecided. He admits to having, “every sympathy with conservative counterrevolutionaries.” He maintains that the debt ceiling is but the latest focus of this fundamental divide using a variation of the term counterrevolution more than once in his article. So, it may be that there is a revolution. One that argues conclusions, does not reason, and asks, “why any conservative would collaborate with that ploy”—suggesting that the debt ceiling ploy was manufactured by someone other than Republicans.
Never mind the list of erroneous arguments that the debt-ceiling crisis somehow serves our presidents' interests. When Mr. Krauthammer returns to earth, he will find that 82% of the nation did not agree with his completely unplugged rhetoric attacking everything unblessed in a conservative ideology. That the party on the Potomac has ended the festivities that failed to make jobs their priority while moving for deficit reduction on the backs of the sick, poor, elderly and weakest in this country, while the wealthiest people and corporations in this country were asked to contribute nothing.
The president’s job approval rating has remained relatively stable at 48% approving, but it is Republicans and Congress who are going shoulder the blame for the difficulties of a shrinking economy—not the President. That four out of five people in this nation recognize that the debt ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country.
The corporate tax holidays and militant anti-union busting is about to come to a screeching halt because 82% of the American workers, while less able to defend their interests in the work-place than at any time since the Depression, are about to end their tea party and pull the plug come November 2012.
As disappointed as the nation is with our policy makers, they should be just as disappointed with a media that has far too often failed to distinguish facts from conclusions while practicing sensationalism and exploitation that seeks personal fame or worse, a kind of perverse joy in unhappiness and public suffering.
Despite his 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer’s partisan editorial seems to knowingly depart from reality if not the truth, while subverting a fundamental principle of his profession. Eighty two percent of Americans are not likely to assume that he was just off the mark in his July 29, 2011 Great Divide article, or that it represented his best independent judgment rather than that of his friends at Fox News. So much for fidelity to the public interest and freedom from all obligations, enhancing media profits by going after the most affluent audience is not just an ideological difference, it is just another disappointment.