Hard to feel much sympathy for the Republicans and the sloppy pool of tizzy they high-dived into. Perplexed as how to combat financial regulatory legislation, they have been bouncing back and forth between a filibuster and a compromise like a ping-pong ball in a stainless steel shower stall.
Their banker buddies have pushed hard to oppose any and all restrictions, placing the GOP in the unenviable position of having to defend Wall Street during an election year. Might want to practice by going to Sea World and rooting for the sharks to eat the dolphins in front of your kids.
At first, the party-line strategy was to affirm a unified opposition to the bill because it helped Wall Street. By regulating it. Yeah. OK. Well, nobody said it was going to be an easy sell. All 41 GOP senators signed a letter proclaiming steadfast opposition to any overhaul, and if they had to shut down the process, they were prepared to do so. It was going to be Health Care II, pertaining to something that distressed their constituents even more than their health.
This was about money.
The banking industry then engaged in a full frontal assault: "It'll hurt the economy." You know what, if self-delusion were sand, these guys would be the Gobi Desert. What planet have they been living on for the last two years? Boys, do yourselves a favor; put down the Financial Times, pick up a local newspaper, and read about communities forced to cut such non-essential services as fire and police, while you're racking up bonuses larger than those communities' shortfalls. Science has yet to develop instruments capable of measuring this kind of arrogance.
We need a new scale.
Mitch McConnell and his ilk continued to give it the old college try; the Senator from Kentucky was locked in a "bailout" loop, muttering, shouting, whispering it into Mrs. Senate Minority Leader McConnell's ear. One unofficial estimate has him repeating the word "bailout" 3,847 times on April 19, 2010. A blatant attempt to tie into the GOP's revisionist history of Wall Street's bailout being just another example of Obama's socialist agenda: conveniently forgetting that a Republican administration proposed the bailout and Mr. McConnell and all his friends voted for it.
Great, something new to worry about -- a collective senior moment.
The game-changer award goes to the SEC, jumping into the ring like a wrestling cohort in street clothes, charging Goldman Sachs with bilking investors out of a billion dollars via a CDO designed to fail. This scattered the arm-locked ranks like a keg of tequila with a leaky spigot rolled into an AA meeting.
We, the vast unwashed public, wondered if they're willing to screw their own customers, what untold horrors were held in store for us? The commission's commissioners claim the timing was purely co-incidental. Unh-hunh. And chlorine-soaked wood splinters make for excellent eye swabs.
The original idea for the New Obstructionists was to keep repeating the mantra that "guvmint is bad" and hope the voters never notice they have become their own best argument.
Yeah, sure, Washington is broken. You bang on a monument with sledgehammers long enough, eventually everyone becomes blind from marble dust. But now the GOP has to stumble back into those ruins and somehow look supportive doing it. Hope they brought their swim goggles.
Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being a conspicuous example. He has performed around the world, and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.