It's always heartwarming to hear politicians whine about the other guys acting unfairly. It reminds me that there is some ultimate justice, karma, or whatever you want to call it in the world.
Today's whine happens to be around the fact that the House Democrats have scheduled a vote on the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) for later today. The Democrats initially passed the legislation but didn't have enough votes to override a presidential veto, so they made some changes that they hope will win over a few of their Republican brethren (and the President). Or is their tactic to put forward another bill the President will veto and then use it against the Republicans as an election issue?
I admit to not knowing much about the legislation. On the one hand it helps kids and on the other it seems to cost a lot ($35 Billion over five years, but given the price of the war maybe that's not so much). One of the things I hate about the discourse in our society is that I am never confident about my knowledge because I am usually forced to rely on alternatively biased perspectives on any given issue. If someone has a few million dollars burning a hole in their pocket, shoot me an email and we'll start a site that gives society some unbiased information they can trust.
Anyway, the Republicans are complaining that the Democrats are holding the vote on a day when they know a handful of Republicans are going to California to tour the wildfires. They feel that the move by the Democrats is, in the words of one Republican, "clearly designed to minimize the Republican opposition to this bill."
First off, I have to say to all politicians the same thing I tell my seven-year-old son, STOP WHINING! I find it insulting that the Republicans whine about a tactic that I have absolutely no doubt they would use if the tables were turned. Gee, do you guys and gals in Congress ever stop to wonder why your collective job approval rating is currently 22% (LA Times/Bloomberg for Oct 19-22).
If four out of five people thought I sucked at my job, I probably wouldn't have it.
Castigations aside, today's Republican whine made me think about what the ground rules should be regarding playing politics (I say, should, because we all know what the ground rules are). Should the Democrats wait a few days until their colleagues get back? Are there even any ground rules or standards of decency when it comes to getting your way in politics? And what if the Democrats are actually playing politics with the SCHIP and secretly hope the Republicans and/or President will vote it down?
Malcolm Friedberg is the author of Why We'll Win (www.whywellwin.com), a book that explains the law behind hot-button social issues to laypeople.