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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why bother governing when you can hunt for scandals?

There are all kinds of words that come to mind when we talk about our federal government and how it functions. Back in the good old days, the familiar words were Constitution, veto, filibuster, override, bipartisan, conference committee and adjournment.

These days the only words being uttered by some of the do-nothing members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are “scandal” and “gotcha.” Whether we like it or not, the government of the U.S. is in a state of paralysis, and is being held hostage by a small band of stubborn misfits who believe that the federal government shouldn’t exist and they are there to make sure that it does nothing.

Every hearing being held these days is for the specific purpose of finding some type of scandal that has a direct tie to President Obama. Every question asked of every witness is specifically framed in such a way as to seek one answer. The question is always the same. “Did the White House know?” or “Did the president know?”

I have been around politics long enough to know a scandal when I see one. The fact that more than 20 state legislators have been caught, tried and convicted is a scandal. When Bernard Madoff cheated thousands of innocent people out of their hard-earned money, that was a scandal. The actions of the Internal Revenue Service in screening the tax-exemption applications of right-wing groups is an insult to all of the voters, but it’s not a scandal that points to the president.

Should the White House staff have told the president about a report critical of the IRS so the president could have announced it himself? It’s a bureaucratic mistake, but it isn’t a scandal with the president’s fingerprints on it. All we hear every day from the so-called Tea Party Republicans is the misused word “scandal.”

One of the words becoming all too familiar to the public is “sequestration.” Last year, Congressional leaders were convinced that if they passed a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to the budget, they would force Congress to come up with a new budget deal. The inability to come up with an agreement led to the use of sequestration, which brought cuts to every area of the federal government.

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