FREE SPEECH ZONE | It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world in today’s politics


Politics has never been a completely “sane” activity, but in the past year or two, it has truly entered the Bizarro World – and seems to be mad, mad mad. Best evidence of these strange phenomena is the incredible number of outrageous, outlandish, and strange statements made by any number of politicians, and an equally incredible number of apologies and mea culpa which follow. “I am sorry” seems to be the operative words.

The most recent is the McChrystal debacle in which a supposedly smart, experienced 4-star general dissed his Commander in Chief, only to later profusely apologize. “I’m sorry”, said he.

Going back a bit, Congressman Joe Wilson shouted out in the venerable halls of the House of Representatives “You lie” – again directed at the President. He said he let his emotions get the better of him. “I’m sorry” he said (reluctantly).

Also in the Congress, Representative Joe Barton from Texas blasted the government for acting so harshly on BP, and apologized to the oil company. “I am sorry” for the actions of my government he stated. Ah, but from him we got a double apology: one for the original apology, and a second when his Republican colleagues advised him he may have erred: thus he came back the next day to apologize for the apology. Rumor is he is now going to unapologize. Confused? It is a mad, mad, mad, mad political world out there right now.

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We also have a host of apologies from all those who blundered into hostile countries, ostensibly by mistake. Three Americans into Iran. “I am very very sorry”; and two journalists into North Korea. “We are sorry”, said they.

Then there is that herd of politicians who have strayed from their spouses, only to be caught in the web of infidelity: Edwards, Vetter, Sanford, and Spitzer, et al. “Sorry, sorry sorry, sorry,” et al.

Lots of politicians say things they later regretted. Obama approved new offshore drilling only to have the fickle finger of fate quickly arrive with the tragic explosion in the Gulf. “We will have a 6 month moratorium on offshore drilling”, he was forced to recant a few weeks later. But, he didn’t say he was “sorry”, He did have something to say to the people of the Gulf: “I am sorry”.

Others have also had to zigzag in strange and incomprehensible ways. Take Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Last year Jindal stated the government should stay out of people’s business and let the citizens take responsibility; that meant we needed a smaller Federal government. Then that same explosion that bit Obama happened, and Jindal could not get enough big government in his state fast enough. That would be irony enough – but not for Jindal. At the same time big oil is ravaging his state with negligent and reckless actions, Jindal is now demanding more oil drilling, and now. He may yet be sorry.

As added examples, there are those politicians who make outrageous statements, then cannot dance away from them fast enough once the absurdity is called out. Rand Paul’s suggestion that perhaps the Civil Rights Act was ill advised came back to bite him hard enough that he apologized for trying to return the black community to their own fountains and restaurant seating. “I’m sorry” said he.

In Nevada, Sharron Angle who will run against Harry Reid for the state’s Senate seat, is also a Tea Party aficionado who wants to abolish the Department of Education; pull out of the U.N.; phase out of Medicare; privatize Social Security; and is against legalization of alcohol (the casinos would love that one). Angle has not apologized (yet) – she merely denies those positions. Such is life in today’s bizzaro political realm.

Similarly, Representative (R MN) Michelle Bachmann, who has a habit of making strange out-of-the-box statements, warned BP to not be “chumps” and be victims of “extortion” while taking a financial hit from the Obama administration. Just the other day she danced around that bizarre position by saying BP is actually responsible for the mess, but she meant she did not want the government to get lots of money from the oil giant and spend it in other ways. Huh? Bachmann has never apologized for her outlandish claims, she too is a denier. Being contrite is apparently not in her playbook. She’s in a tough race this year, and may yet be “sorry”.

Finally, Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for Minnesota governor has submitted an amendment to the state constitution which would allow the legislature and the governor of the state to “opt out” of any Federal laws and mandates they may object to. Aside from the unconstitutional nature of such a plan, the effects of having every state capable of “opting out” of Federal laws at the whims of their current elected officials is so outlandish that it is…well, mad, mad, mad.

So, what is this really about? There have always been aggressive and angry fights in politics, but today’s politicians seem more crude, rude, and outrageous than those of past years. There seem to be more voices from the fringe than those of moderation – especially in the Republican Party in which their base has moved farther right, and the centrist voices seem intimidated and muted. There has also been a terrible, ugly, and unseemly antagonism to Obama which is hard to fully explain, but certainly racism is a component. That alone has ginned up the far right. There are changes in the media, which bring us not only up-to-the-second developments, but on-site as well; plus the confusing blend of news/entertainment/opinion in today’s reporting. Finally there is the general malaise and discontent which seems to permeate our society these days. Folks just seem angry, upset, and ready to lash out. All of which makes the political scene a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

If I have misrepresented, falsely attacked, or exaggerated any of the above, all I can say is, I apologize….I am sorry.