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When politics has no time for government

By Frank Salvato
web posted November 14, 2005

The mainstream media is pounding on the issue that President Bush's poll numbers are, well… bad. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has his approval rating at 41 per cent while those that disapprove are numbered at 56 per cent. These are some pretty dismal numbers if you have a memory that doesn't stretch too far. Clinton's numbers weren't that spectacular when the media had its talons out during the myriad scandals that took place during his administration. But then Clinton never saw an aspirin factory he didn't like.

The bigger story here is not the report of President Bush's lackluster poll numbers. How would it be possible to have good poll numbers when those taking the polls usually skew the questions and the mainstream media doesn't report anything good that takes place? The real story here is that the poll numbers for those in Congress make the poll numbers for the president look absolutely fabulous!

The same source, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, has the Congressional approval rating at an embarrassing 29 per cent with a whopping 64 per cent disapproving of their performance. When the liberals in Congress step out to the veranda to pontificate about Bush's poor approval ratings it would seem that the partisan pot is calling the kettle black.

I tend to fall to the right of center. I am a Republican and I usually find myself more critical of the comments made and actions taken by those of the left. But I am far from the likes of the liberal leftist Kool-Aid drinkers who skip merrily behind Cindy Sheehan, ignoring facts and demanding ridiculous actions while ignoring the devastation that would be left in the wake. I do not place any credence in "black helicopter" theories of conspiracy and I believe that sworn testimony, unless you are of the Clinton Administration, tends to be more truthful than not.

But when those on the right side of the aisle do something wrong I like to call them on it; and my friends, something stinks and it's coming from Capitol Hill.

I am not talking about the defense of the laughable charges leveled against "Scooter" Libby and I'm not talking about the whining I hear about the hardball political tactics used by Karl Rove – the same tactics used by Kerry, Kennedy, Pelosi and Reid I might add. No, I am talking about a statement made by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Senate Finance Committee chairman, regarding the issue of Social Security reform.

It would seem that after lengthy negotiations among the members of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley felt he could not produce a passable Social Security Reform bill. The reason, the good Senator alluded to, was the fact that Republicans will be facing a difficult political climate in the coming years and an intense presidential race in 2008. Therefore, concluded Senator Grassley, "The next bite at the apple" for Social Security would come after the next presidential election.

Well, to that I say, with all due respect, Senator, bull! Get back to work.

Now, I am not going to place the blame for a missed opportunity to do something right for the American people at the feet of only Senator Grassley. That would be disingenuous. I place the blame at the feet of every elected official who puts politics ahead of government.

Voters don't elect people to office for them to worry about their political futures, to place their political well being ahead of the jobs they were elected to perform. We elect them to do the work of governing a nation. Those who put politics ahead of government, people like Harry Reid who call for clandestine Senate sessions in a show of partisan political opportunism, are a scourge on the American governmental process. It is because of them, and the partisan mentality they bring to Washington DC, that We the People will never see meaningful tax and Social Security reforms.

The Social Security system in this country is broken but there won't be motivation to fix it until 2009. Why? Because the "talking points champions" up on The Hill care more about maintaining their political viability than standing up for what is best for the American people. Their political existence is more important to them than the job we sent them to do in Washington.

Meaningful tax reform, tax reform that derives government revenues from the strengths of American enterprise rather than the livelihoods of the American people, is but a wisp of smoke rising from the pipe Congress collectively smokes. Lord only knows what it's filled with, probably our tax dollars.

Why won't meaningful tax reform be achieved, even as Republicans sit in the majority in Congress? Because those in Congress charged with legislating such reforms – from both sides of the aisle – are too busy protecting the publicly funded money trough from which they feed. They need to protect the excesses so they can continue to bring home the pork, so they can continue to building bridges to nowhere, and they do so on the backs of every working American.

In an equitable America, politics would be something that would be banished from the halls of government. Representatives and Senators would consider their elected stature an honor. Maniacal egoists, such as Teddy Kennedy and John Kerry, would have been run out of Washington by a crowd brandishing pitchforks and torches! Representing the "folks back home" would be a privilege and doing what was best for constituents would take precedent over political survival.

But that isn't reality. If you don't believe me look at how seven-term Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) protected his highway bill pork with the viciousness of a Mother badger. "If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state...I will resign from this body," Stevens threatened. You know what? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Ted! We can do without narcissists like you, even if you are Republican.

It is time we demand that our elected officials put government before politics. The partisan game-playing fostered by the status quo, the Kennedys, Pelosis, Stevens and the like, is uniquely un-American. With that in mind it is easy to see why the American public approves of President Bush more than his detractors in Congress…by a wide margin.

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for TheRant.us. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, socio-political education project. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us Copyright © 2005 Frank Salvato

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