Making Nice

     Those of you who are old like me may remember a time when we (or at least I) held politicians in contempt because they compromised their principles.
     Now we (or at least I) hold them in contempt because they won’t compromise.
     Can’t we all (or least I) hold them in contempt just because they’re politicians and not worry about what they’re doing?
     That might seem logical but there are still people out there who think things can be fixed.
     Take No Labels.
     I’ve been a tad harsh on this movement or whatever they are because it seemed as if not taking a position on anything didn’t really accomplish a lot. No Labels didn’t seem to stand for anything except not standing for things.
     I may have been premature in my criticism. No Labels has finally come up with a 12-point plan. (I almost typed “action plan” and then I almost typed “inaction plan” but then I thought that was too snide. And then I realized that snide or snidity or snidishness – is my job, so never mind.)
     It turns out, however, that No Labels has been mislabeled. They don’t stand for nothing. They stand for niceness. It’s the Kumbaya Party.
     Imagine a million strong marching on Washington demanding pleasantness.
     I’m not mocking this concept. I’m very much in favor of pleasantness. I’ve been known to be occasionally pleasant myself (but don’t tell anyone).
     But are politicians going to buy this?
     Let’s look at some of the 12 points.
     The first is: “If Congress can’t make spending and budget decisions on time, members shouldn’t be paid on time.”
     Let’s see how long they last on corporate donations and personal fortunes.
     Interesting as that might be, I do have a couple of questions. What exactly is “on time?” The government hasn’t shut down since the Clinton days and not everyone thought that was a bad thing.
     Doesn’t seem like this would have much effect.
     And what about Congress people who do want to make timely decisions but get outvoted? Does everyone have to suffer? It doesn’t seem fair.
     Apparently the idea is to incentivize legislators willing to vote and not worry too much about what they’re voting for.
     Point 5 is “make members come to work.”
     How this will streamline the process is beyond me. We need to discourage them from coming to work.
     Point 6 is “provide a monthly forum for members of Congress to ask the president questions to force leaders to debate one another and defend their ideas.”
     Yes, endless public bickering. I like it. It will be great for comedy. But it doesn’t seem to fit with the whole kumbaya thing. I don’t know how that one got in there.
     This brings us to point 9 which really should have come right after the forums idea in point 6. To wit: “The House and Senate should institute monthly, off-the-record and bipartisan gatherings to get members talking across party lines.”
     Yes, secret meetings. Just what the country needs.
     I’m guessing that they’ll come right after those monthly debate forums and involve a lot of drinking and hookers.
     Now that I think about it, some drunken bill signing might be just what we need.
     Point 11 is interesting: “Congressional party leaders should form a bipartisan congressional leadership committee to discuss legislative agendas and substantive solutions.”
     Kind of like a Super Committee. Yeah, those work great.
     Finally, my favorite point. Number 10: “At all joint meetings or sessions of Congress, each member should be seated next to at least one member of the other party.”
     This is only because there aren’t enough women for it to be boy-girl-boy-girl.
     It’s not going to be easy to pass notes in the new No Labels Congress.
     How likely is any of this to happen?
     You can get a sense of the likelihood from the mass email that No Labels sent out. It includes this sentence: “Many members of Congress – including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) – endorsed No Labels’ reforms as just what Congress needs. BUT … everyone also agreed the plan wouldn’t be enacted unless citizens demand it.”
     In other words, it’s not happening unless someone needs it to get elected.
     So much for niceness.

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